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Officer’s testimony omits prior IA investigation for use of force

Memory failure

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Chuck Kull says he forgot about his IA investigation. - MEDIA POOL VIDEO
  • Media pool video
  • Chuck Kull says he forgot about his IA investigation.
An El Paso County Sheriff’s officer admits that he gave false information while under oath during the criminal trial of former Sheriff Terry Maketa, but no one seems to want to comment about it.

When Lt. Chuck Kull was asked on July 6 if he’d been involved in any internal affairs investigations (disciplinary investigations) while serving with the Fountain Police Department, Kull answered, “none,” according to the Gazette’s Twitter feed during the trial, and Kull’s own admission. But last week, Fountain police provided a report showing Kull was the subject of a disciplinary investigation, and Kull then said he had forgotten about the probe.

District Attorney Dan May declined to comment through a spokesperson on whether charges are in order or whether Kull would be placed on the Brady list, a list of officers who have departed from the truth at some juncture, which is provided to defense attorneys in cases in which those officers will be called to testify. Current Sheriff Bill Elder, speaking through spokesperson Jackie Kirby, said he wasn’t in the courtroom when Kull gave false information and “therefore, he has no comment.”

Kull’s testimony came after he was called by the prosecution in Maketa’s trial. Maketa later was acquitted of two felonies and a misdemeanor. He’ll be retried in October on two felonies regarding alleged extortion and two misdemeanor official misconduct charges, because jurors couldn’t reach a verdict on those counts.

Ironically, Kull’s testimony centered on allegations Maketa committed misconduct by trying to place several officer’s names on the Brady list, Kull’s included. That was one of the charges for which Maketa was acquitted.

For background, Kull and Sgt. Emory Gerhart were both working under Maketa in 2013 when they were accused of being connected to the “disappearance” of the internal affairs file of Elder, who worked for the Sheriff’s Office in the 1990s and was elected in 2014. Both resigned. Kull went to work in Fountain and returned to El Paso County after Elder took office on Dec. 31, 2014.

Meantime, Kull and Gerhart filed claims against the county alleging they were targeted by Maketa because they supported Elder for sheriff, though Maketa was barred by term limits from seeking a fourth term. In May 2015, the county paid them a combined total of $198,000.

Kull’s internal affairs file from Fountain police, where he worked from Jan. 27, 2014 until May 22, 2015, shows that he was advised of a disciplinary investigation on Feb. 12, 2015, in a memo from Fountain Police Administrator Michael Haley. Kull initialed and signed the form, acknowledging he understood the process. The investigation was triggered by a complaint and was not sustained, meaning, Haley tells the Indy, there was insufficient evidence to prove or disprove the allegation.

Haley says in an email that Kull was investigated regarding an incident related to a student at an undisclosed school, and whether Kull’s use of his hands constituted excessive force. “There were no independent witnesses identified or body worn video captured,” Haley says.

Through his attorney, Shimon Kohn, who represented Kull in his case against the county that yielded the payout, Kull said he didn’t recall the investigation until he was told the Indy had asked for the file. He also said he was cleared, though Haley said the complaint was not sustained, which is different than being exonerated.

“These types of investigations are commonplace in law enforcement and this one was no different,” Kohn’s statement said. “It is understandable he would not immediately recall a ten-minute conversation with Mr. Haley from approximately 3 years ago.”

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