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CSPD officer investigated, streets tax vote coming, and more


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Police officer investigated

Tyler Walker, the Colorado Springs police officer who threw 18-year-old Alexis Acker to the floor at Memorial Hospital in November 2013, is under investigation in a Level 2 probe, which covers "more serious [policy] violations" and can lead to dismissal from the department.

Walker's actions were captured on video and posted on the Indy's website last week as part of the "Full force" cover story about the CSPD's use of force. The video has been viewed about 5 million times.

The Walker investigation was launched in July 2014, three months after the city received a notice of claim from Acker's lawyer. A lawsuit is due to be filed any day, and likely will seek more than the $500,000 figure cited in the notice letter.

Mayor John Suthers reacted to the Indy's report by citing his close association with law enforcement spanning some 20 years and saying the CSPD "hires well qualified people and trains its officers well in use of force," people who "do not have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight." Two City Councilors responded to questions expressing trust and confidence in police.

Walker remains on patrol duty pending the investigation. — PZ

City eyes November ballot

Voters can expect the Nov. 3 election ballot to include a proposed sales tax hike of 0.62 percent to be spent on roads and a request allowing the city to retain $2.1 million in extra revenue from 2014 to be spent on trails.

City Council voted last week to support reserving space on the ballot, as requested by Mayor John Suthers. Councilor Helen Collins cast the sole dissenting vote.

In a release, Suthers noted 62 percent of the city's roads are in "a state of rapid deterioration." The release cited polling data showing voters are willing to pay higher taxes for roads if flood-control projects are funded from existing revenues. A sales tax increase was backed by 69 percent; 14 percent favored property tax.

The tax would generate from $45 million to $50 million a year and likely would sunset after five years. — PZ

Tax convictions upheld

Douglas Bruce, author of the tax limitation measure dubbed the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR), lost the appeal last week of his 2011 conviction for tax evasion, according to The Daily Sentinel in Grand Junction. The Colorado Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the convictions, saying there was sufficient evidence to find him guilty.

Bruce served 103 days of a 180-day sentence due to good behavior. His probation is now being challenged, based on claims he failed to notify the probation department of certain financial transactions, including deeding his mother's condominium to City Councilor Helen Collins last December. He awaits a hearing Aug. 31.

Bruce says he'll appeal the latest ruling to the Colorado Supreme Court, which he expects will decline to hear the case. In that event, Bruce says, he'll appeal to federal court. — PZ

Transgender soldiers may soon be serving openly

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has announced a working group will study implications of welcoming transgender people to serve openly in the military. The group has been instructed to presume transgender people will be welcomed.

Carter noted the military has weathered many changes in the past, and transgender people have served with honor, even while having to hide their true identity. Over the next six months, while the group completes its study, "all administrative discharges for those diagnosed with gender dysphoria or who identify themselves as transgender" will be determined by Brad Carson, acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.

Local transgender activist Shari Zabel, who only openly embraced her identity as a woman after recently retiring from a career with the Air Force, says the announcement is wonderful news.

"I believe the Secretary of Defense is doing his due diligence to effectively allow for a complex issue," she wrote in an email. "The immediate [alleviation] for separation of a particular transgender service member up to the Department of Defense Secretariat level is indicative of how serious the issue is being taken. Many past and present military service members' hard work has gone into this effort. I am eager to see the results of the study." — JAS

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