Denver bank robbery suspect

Denver bank robbery suspect

or victim of mistaken identity


Arrested for a crime he couldn’t have possibly committed not once but twice, his life now in ruin he faces an uncertain future in Denver, Colorado.  

Before September 2014 Steven Talley was living the American dream, he had a promising career in the financial services industry, was comfortably employed at Transamerica Capital, had a family, a home and his freedom.

All of that changed almost overnight for him, he was awakened by beating on his door and greeted by an FBI task force, Denver Police and its Swat team. He was being charged with aggravated robbery and assaulting an officer. Crimes he eventually successfully proved he couldn’t have possibly committed, yet not without having lost everything.

The last time I checked, he was still homeless and now still being charged with petty meaningless crimes that police really have to dig in order to find.

I bring his case to your attention because FBI director James Comey is actually trying really hard to help bring about a peace between the public and the police in this nation. He out of everyone truly wholeheartedly wants to bring about new ways of policing, he wants the public to trust it’s police again. He wants the police to understand the public they serve better and he wants the public to better understand police, what it takes to actually be a cop.

The problem is that while he is out walking the beat in an effort to create this change, for all of the good that he does, cases like Steven’s only destroy his every effort to bring about those changes.

While I do not always agree with James on things, I do respect his tireless efforts to bridge the gap between the public and police in this nation.

If anyone had the chance to watch the video of BLM co-founder from last Wednesday morning at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, going off on James you’ll see what I mean. James actually stopped and intently listened to this man who was just at times being belligerent. He took the time and made the effort to hear what this man was trying to say.

So while I do not always agree with him, I do stand by what Director James Comey is trying to accomplish and addressing situations like Steven Talley’s will only help to better understand what is broken and how to fix it. This is just one small piece of it.

So this is the story of Steven Talley

September 15, 2014

“They broke my third, fourth, fifth, sixth ribs,” said Talley. “The guy that stood on my face cracked all my teeth on my left side.”

Police zeroed in on Steven because of two individuals who saw surveillance video which showed a man who resembled him robbing a US Bank in Denver. Four months later, what appears to be the same suspect robbed another bank. The suspect walked in, armed with a .45 caliber handgun, had clear surgical gloves on and handed the teller a note demanding cash.

A maintenance worker in Steven’s office building and Steven’s ex-wife said she recognized him on the surveillance tapes.

Once arrested, Steven tried to tell the police they had the wrong guy, he plead not guilty. Now the physical description of the robber was not a match to Steven, wrong height, wrong body weight, it didn’t match.

No one would listen to him as he plead that he was innocent. He finally was able to prove after providing a rock solid alibi for the first robbery the he was in fact innocent of that robbery.

The issue here is, how solid of an investigation did law enforcement really do to not have been able to uncover that alibi prior to Steven’s arrest? That is a pretty significant thing to just miss during the course of an investigation.

Upon Steven’s release however, he claims that the lead detective on the case made a threat. Denver Police Detective Jeffrey A Hart, according to Steven said, “I’m going to throw your ass back in jail, we’re going to re-file.”

I actually do know this detective and the way Steven describes him is a bit inaccurate. Jeffrey would never threaten a suspect. My guess is that he did make a comment, not a threat that the case would be refiled. I know Jeff a little more deeply than most and I can tell you he isn’t the type of cop that could be considered a gun toting thug and being a complete dick is not his MO.

The case was actually refiled a year later, which is typical in a lot of cases like this, nothing out of the ordinary with that.

Steven’s attorney says that Steven has a distinctive mole on his right cheek, something that doesn’t show up on the bank’s surveillance video, even with FBI enhancements oddly enough. What’s really curious however is that according the teller at the second robbery the suspect who was wearing those clear surgical gloves…well he had scars, age spots or moles she couldn’t tell which, on his hands. Something Steven does not have.

Last but not least, the first teller could not positively identify Steven although initially she did, she later recanted that.

So what in the hell happened here?

How could this case have been so screwed up? Why was crucial evidence missed or blatantly ignored? Knowing Detective Hart like I do, it really is that hard for me personally to believe this investigation ended up so wrong.

I know that Steven has gone on to tell the media that the police are charging him with piddly shit as a form of retaliation, but I also know that when someone is desperate, they have lost everything, they can become irrational and they tend to get standoffish with people, in this case the enemy is the police. I am not saying that is necessarily the case here but I’ve seen it quite a bit.

Steven is homeless or was at least as of March of this year, it’s not hard to have a run in with DPD when you are homeless in Denver. 

I also know that, sometimes when police think they have the right suspect, they tend to only follow the evidence that will lead them to that suspect, they will easily discount any and all other evidence that leads them away from the guy they think is good for it.

It’s more subconscious than you think, most of the time they don’t even realize that they are doing it. To compare it, it’s sort of the like dealing with an individual who is really stubborn. No matter what proof you put in front of them, they still think they are right about something.

Sometimes, someone will believe in something so strongly that, that ends up being the only truth they know. They live it, breath it and know only that. I know that police don’t like being wrong but they are after all, human beings just like the rest of us. They can be wrong too, they are not immune to that.

The trick here is teaching law enforcement to catch themselves doing that. It’s harder than you think to do but it is not impossible. It is something that must be addressed. In today’s world, being wrong on this level can cost a cop his career and an entire department it’s credibility. It can cost the department its relationship with the very community it serves.

Police are also under a lot of pressure to apprehend a suspect, especially dangerous ones. They are sometimes encouraged to selectively look at evidence, rush through an investigation, go after one guy because he looks like the suspect. This pressure, it comes from the legal system, not other cops, the captain, a sergeant.

It encourages our officers to do what they are taught is the right thing…only to learn in the end when that cop ends up being the fall guy…it wasn’t the right thing.

To fix it, we have to fix it all. Not just a small part of it. The system as a whole has to stop pressuring cops to make an arrest. Let cops do their jobs so as to ensure they are done right. This entire case with Steven Talley, would not have gone so sideways if the cops were not so pressured in the first place.

Many years ago, more than I am willing to actually admit to, I did several ride alongs with detective Hart. The beat cop I know and spent quite a bit of time with, didn’t really like arresting people, He liked being able to make a difference in someone’s life. Making a bad situation better, helping someone, it was never about going after people and cuffing them. It was about protecting the public while at the same time, making a difference. That really mattered to him, believe it or not.

One thing he taught me was that he and his team only made an arrest if they had to, if they had another option, they took it. The last thing any of them wanted was being responsible for destroying an innocent person’s life.

Cristal M Clark


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