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DPD Sergeant Charged With Assault Has Faced More Than 20 Inappropriate Force Complaints

By Brian Maass

DENVER (CBS4) -- Denver Police Sergeant Joseph Rodarte, who was arrested and charged Thursday with second degree assault, has faced more than 20 complaints of inappropriate force during his career, but virtually all of the complaints were ruled unfounded, not sustained, or Rodarte was exonerated.

According to a DPD statement released Thursday, Rodarte was charged in connection with an on-duty incident involving a teenager that occurred Aug. 22. He is suspended without pay pending the outcome of the current criminal case.

Joseph Rodarte
Joseph Rodarte (credit: Denver Police Department)

Mayor Michael Hancock issued the following statement regarding the arrest of Rodarte:

"I was briefed yesterday about this incident and the District Attorney's decision to file charges against one of our officers, and I am deeply concerned. I am reaching out to the teen's family to offer them our full support as this process takes its course.  Our city takes all incidents of alleged police misconduct very seriously. I, along with the Department of Safety and the Denver Police Department, are committed to cooperating fully with the District Attorney's Office in its investigation. This is a matter of significant public concern and I am monitoring all developments closely."

A review of Rodarte's disciplinary history with DPD shows 21 internal affairs cases lodged against the officer either for inappropriate force or assault since he started working there in 1990.

Records from the police department show that in 1994, there were four cases of inappropriate force investigated, but all were either ruled 'unfounded' or Rodarte was exonerated following the internal affairs investigation.

In 1995, there were another four inappropriate force complaints against Rodarte. Three were determined to be unfounded but one of the cases resulted in a finding of "sustained" as it related to use of force procedures.

In 1996, Rodarte was investigated for assault which was not sustained, and another three investigations for inappropriate force -- all three were not sustained.

In the most recent case that led to a felony charge, an affidavit says Rodarte hit a suspect six times with his metal police baton, causing serious bodily injury. The victim received a fractured leg, fractured nasal bones and cuts to his face that required stitches.  The suspect had been attempting to run from police according to the affidavit. One officer tripped the man and he fell to the ground. That's when investigators say Rodarte approached the man and hit him with the baton.

Rodarte is free on a personal recognizance bond.

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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