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Denver District Attorney Rips Manager of Safety For 'Irresponsible' Actions

DENVER (CBS4) - In a nearly unheard of move, Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey has blasted Denver's manager of safety for what the veteran prosecutor calls "irresponsible" behavior and the dissemination of "misinformation" by the Manager of Safety's Office.

The accusations came in a letter sent by Morrissey to Manager of Safety Stephanie O'Malley Jan. 7 which was obtained by CBS4.

thomas ford
(credit: CBS)

The letter and the harsh words deal with the case of Denver Sheriff's Deputy Thomas Ford, who was fired for a jailhouse incident that occurred July 13, 2014. In that case, which was recorded by jail cameras, Ford slugs an inmate, Kyle Askins, after Ford said the inmate made threatening remarks. The Manager of Safety's Office later ruled that Deputy Ford used unnecessary force in the incident and terminated him Sept. 5, 2014.

But in a 30-page termination letter, the Manager of Safety's Office bolsters its case for termination by repeatedly referring to Ford also kicking the prisoner after he was knocked down.

Mitch Morrissey
CBS4's Brian Maass talks with Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey (credit: CBS)

"I saw absolutely nothing to indicate there was a kick," Morrissey told CBS4.

In his letter to O'Malley, Morrissey wrote, "There was no kick involved in the incident. The bottom line for me is that a careful study of the video by numerous law enforcement personnel shows no proof of a kick, much less a kick to Askin's chest or shoulder area."

Morrissey said his office ruled Ford did nothing that would constitute criminal conduct, but he said he was troubled by the City's repeated assertions about a kick that the district attorney says never happened.

Thomas Ford
Thomas Ford (credit: CBS)

"We reviewed the video over and over and over again. This sheriff didn't kick anybody. It's irresponsible in this situation to put out misinformation that then gets a life of its own."

Morrissey says had the deputy kicked Askins, he would have filed a criminal charge. But he says in his view there is no kick captured by two video cameras, nor did Askins complain he was kicked, nor did any witnesses say the deputy kicked the prisoner.

Morrissey told CBS4 he was concerned "about them accusing a man of doing something that there's no evidence he did -- none whatsoever."

In a response to Morrissey dated Jan. 29, 2015, O'Malley wrote that her office believed the kick accusation was "supported by the evidence." A spokesperson for O'Malley said she would not comment further on the kick accusation since Deputy Ford is currently appealing his termination.

"Given that the Ford case remains actively under appeal, it would be inappropriate for the executive director to participate in an interview about the case," Daelene Mix with the Manager of Safety's Office said.

Morrissey told CBS4 he could not recall ever sending a similar letter to any manager of Safety during his tenure as district attorney.

Additional Resources

Read the letter Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey wrote and the response from Manager of Safety Stephanie O'Malley.

CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass has been with the station more than 30 years uncovering waste, fraud and corruption. Follow him on Twitter @Briancbs4.

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