Colorado – Police ‘forget’ to file Domestic Violence Charges

Colorado – Police forget to file domestic violence charges against suspect

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The good news is, they offered the victim free movie tickets instead.

The Westminster, Colorado Police it seems failed to file domestic abuse charges against against a woman’s violent ex due to a clerical error. The detective oddly enough failed to follow up on it in 2012 so it was missed until 2015.

The victim in this case Elizabeth Steadman, reported the abuse to police in back in 2012, the detective handling the case informed her that he would file an arrest warrant affidavit for felony menacing, third-degree assault, and harassment and then forward it to the Adams County DA’s Office for review.

As it turned out however, a police supervisor closed the case instead, by mistake of course. They didn’t discover the error until 2015.

The victim says that she called and called to get updates about her case until the detective that was handling the case told her that he would call when the DA reached a decision.

She waited until 2015 to reach out again, this time she was told by the detective that he had dropped the ball and that the case had fallen through the cracks and that it was never filed with the DA.

Which was really noble of the detective to own up to. I am also pretty sure that he was reprimanded for admitting to dropping the ball.

After that, around 6 weeks later the victim was called to a meeting and this is where things in her mind go even further south than they should have. It was in this meeting that she felt attacked and blamed.

She goes on to say that state documents show that police admitted to discussing challenges in the case that may have ultimately prevented prosecution. She was asked why she waited so long to check up on the case.

And she took issue with being asked why she waited so long to check up on the case.

Which is a really good question but before we get to that, it was what happened in the parking lot that left her feeling insulted. A commanding officer walked up to her and said “You deserve a day to yourself. Here’s a pair of movie tickets.”

I can understand mistakes, issues with filing charges, even dropping the ball, but movie tickets as a way to apologize for one of your officers dropping the ball on filing charges against a domestic violence suspect?

Really? Does the Westminster Police Department give all it’s victims movie tickets when they fail to actually file charges?

I bring this subject up because it covers two very real issues in today’s world. We have two sides, the police and the victims. Sometimes victims will over dramatize aspects of the crime or the events that followed, even interaction with police.

And then we have the police…

I’ve seen and met cops who tend to take a Laissez-faire attitude towards domestic violence, they show up with an attitude that clearly shows, “I have better shit to do than deal with a DV,” or they are sick of dealing with DV’s, sometimes if one or both parties have been drinking they have an attitude about that…and the biggest issue is that they become desensitized to it and treat victims like it’s not a huge deal, whatever, basically in a disrespectful, demeaning manner.

Sadly, those issues are all too common. Victims report it all the time and to be fair, if anyone bothered to look, officers who carry that crap attitude towards domestic violence victims or who are desensitized to it do in fact show clear and distinct signs of it.

Then, sometimes a detective will get so bogged down with other work that he or she fails to follow up on the charges they filed. They don’t have “time” to keep being bothered with calls from a victim awaiting word about a case being filed or not…and they let things slide.

Whatever the case, the bottom line is that there is no excuse for it.

To insult a victim with an offer of something free such as movie tickets for some “you time” is completely inappropriate when your department failed to do it’s job.

The victim in this case was not treated with respect or dignity, she was basically ignored and filed away in some drawer and forgotten about.

Now let’s look at the other side because in this case we have to. 

The victim waited 3 years to learn if charges had been filed in her case and for a trial date? This was not a murder investigation, police were not searching for a body, a head, a foot or a hand, this was not a bank robbery investigation, a drive by investigation, it was a domestic violence case where neither party had been hospitalized, severely beaten or killed.

If it was that important to her that she have her day in court and that the suspect paid for the abuse then…

Being an adult victim is not the same as being a 5 year old child victim, ignorance is not an excuse.

If you are a capable and able minded adult, who is no one else’s legal responsibility to care for, legally you can make your own decisions, then you too carry some level of burden.

As a victim it is up to you to find resources, the police out of habit do give out victim resource information, in that stack of paperwork that they give to you, you can find resources to housing, work, funds for things like medical bills, funds for therapy, legal resources and helpful tips about staying safe and seeking help.

The police don’t do that for you and neither will the court or the DA.

If a victim is concerned that his or her case is not moving, all they have to do is pick up a phone because point blank if you were smart enough to report this to the Victim Rights Act subcommittee, and also agree to an interview with the local media, roughly 3 years after the fact, then you knew full well you could have gone above the detective’s head a very long time ago.

If a victim wants justice sometimes it is up to you to keep things going. Know your rights, push for answers and don’t let someone shut you out because they are too busy to take your call, move up the ladder yourself, don’t wait for someone to notice you waiting. 

To wait even 6 months to see if your case is even going to get a trial date? That’s on the victim.

You will get no argument from me that the Westminster, Colorado Police Department added insult to injury.

I have to add however that the victim in this case bears some of the responsibility for the ball being dropped.

Cristal M Clark

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