A Denver police officer accused in a 2014 brawl at another officer’s home will be suspended for 90 days for lying to Aurora police officers about being drunk, Denver officials have decided.
Jeremy Ownbey narrowly avoided being fired because of the drunken brawl at Denver detective Steve Sloan’s house. Ownbey signed an agreement with the police department acknowledging that he would be fired if he gets in any more trouble during the next two years, according to a copy of his discipline letter obtained by The Denver Post.
The May 2014 fight embarrassed the department after it made national headlines because the Aurora Police Department’s incident report included allegations of swinging between the officers and their wives.
Both Ownbeys were charged in connection with the fight. Jeremy Ownbey’s charges were dropped by the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. His wife’s charges are pending.
The Ownbeys were accused of leaving their children at home alone so they could attend a cookout at the Sloans’ house. Both couples drank multiple alcoholic beverages, according to police reports.
The Sloans asked the Ownbeys to leave because of Jaime Ownbey’s behavior, according to previous reports. On the way out the door, Jaime Ownbey allegedly punched Sloan’s wife. Then, Sloan punched Jaime Ownbey, which led Jeremy Ownbey to join the fray. Sloan was accused of pulling a gun during the fight, but he and his wife were never charged in connection to the fight.
By the time Aurora police arrived, Jeremy Ownbey had left the house but later returned. He was uncooperative with police and “made misrepresentations” to them, his discipline letter said.
Ownbey was able to retain his job because he had just three minor disciplinary actions during his 10-year career and had received three commendations, the letter said.
“Officer Ownbey has taken complete responsibility for his actions,” the letter said. “He has demonstrated genuine remorse.”
Ownbey will serve his suspension from April 17 to July 15.
Sean Olson, Ownbey’s attorney, said he did not want to comment on the case.
In another case of Denver police officer discipline, Daniel Politica will serve a 10-day suspension and lose six vacation days for harassing a Lower Downtown street performer and then starting a fight that led to a large police response and false arrests on a Saturday night in October.
Politica, who has been a Denver officer since 2005, drank “three double tall vodkas” at the ViewHouse nightspot on Market Street before picking a fight with a street drummer, saying he was too loud and calling him an offensive name, according to his discipline letter.
Four men who saw Politica harassing the drummer stopped to help, and a fistfight broke out. During the fight, Politica dialed 911 and told the operator he was an officer and had been attacked downtown, the letter said.
Because of the 911 call, 15 officers from two police districts responded. The men who intervened on behalf of the drummer were arrested but later were released after the district attorney’s office declined to file charges, the disciplinary letter said.
“Officer Politica’s behavior was extremely inappropriate and it had far-reaching consequences,” the letter said. “Four individuals who intervened to protect an innocent individual from harm were wrongfully and unjustifiably arrested because of Officer Politica’s misconduct and false accusations.”
The fight also reduced police resources on the streets during a busy Saturday night in downtown Denver, the letter said.
“Finally, Officer Politica refuses to take responsibility for his actions,” the letter said.
The police department’s internal investigation found that Politica had committed an offensive act while intoxicated and violated the department’s rule about maintaining good order and police discipline.
A third disciplinary case involving a Denver Police Department officer led to Detective Ryan Kobernick losing five paid-vacation days for issuing a traffic ticket to a teenager in Jefferson County.
Kobernick, who was hired by Denver police in 2001, has had an ongoing feud with the 17-year-old driver’s family, the disciplinary letter said. He pulled the teen over about a mile from his home while wearing a Denver police traffic investigations unit uniform and driving an unmarked car with emergency blue and red lights.
Kobernick cited the teen driver for no proof of insurance even though the car was properly insured, the letter said. The charge was dropped in court.
“Detective Kobernick’s actions were not only unreasonable, they were done for no legitimate traffic enforcement reasons,” the letter said.