Former Denver police deputy chief cleared of misconduct in open-records case

The Denver Post: A former Denver Police Department deputy chief was cleared of misconduct Monday after a nearly two-year investigation into whether he was deceptive in his handling of an open-records request.

Matt Murray did not violate open-records rules because he did not physically possess the document in question, and there were misunderstandings and miscommunications throughout the request process, Denver police said in a news release.

Police Chief Paul Pazen announced Monday his decision to decline punishment for Murray. Already, Pazen had decided not to retain Murray as a deputy chief, and Murray was demoted two ranks to lieutenant shortly after Pazen was sworn in over the summer. Murray, who once held aspirations to be police chief, now is assigned to the department’s community relations section.

An investigation into Murray and former Chief Robert White was opened in March 2017 because of their handling of an open-records request for a letter critical of Murray’s oversight of an internal investigation. They were accused of saying the letter did not exist when they knew it did. The letter eventually became public.

The letter, written by former Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey, accused Murray of violating a longstanding protocol over police use of on-call attorneys, who help investigate serious crimes, and his letter said Murray’s decision-making caused a woman to be unfairly named as a sexual assault suspect. The Denver Police Protective Association and Denver7 had asked for the letter by filing requests under the Colorado Open Records Act with the Department of Safety.

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