Denver District Attorney Beth McCann was sworn into office a little more than six months ago, but already appears to have lost the trust of her predecessor Mitch Morrissey, the rank and file of the Denver Police, and much of the public at large.
Her handling of the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) scandal involving Police Chief Robert White and Deputy Chief Matt Murray as well as the inmate killing at the Denver Jail has brought into serious question whether she remains intellectually capable of handling the difficult job as head law enforcement officer in the City and County of Denver. McCann gave interviews to the media in both cases, but the interviews raised even more questions than they answered.
The Denver Police had issued a press release accusing Angiella Arnot of sexual assault (along with a now former Denver Police Officer), but she was never charged. Longtime Denver DA Mitch Morrissey sent a letter to Police Chief White highly critical of Deputy DA Matt Maury’s “rush to judgment” in the arrest of an “innocent woman.” Chief White responded to the DA in a two sentence letter declaring he would “look at the totality of the situation and . . . ensure that the appropriate action is taken.”
When the Denver police union asked for a copy of the letter pursuant to CORA it was told that the police department was “unaware of any … electronic or written exchanges responsive to your request.” It was a lie and White and Maury knew it according to the one honest person in the sordid affair, Mary Dulacki, Department of Safety Records Coordinator.
It was an open and shut case of a criminal violation of CORA by the two highest cops in Denver. McCann had promised the voters during her campaign that she would strongly pursue cases of police misconduct. What she meant, of course, was that she would go after the cop on the beat, but vigorously ignore the most blatant criminal conduct on the part of the top echelon bosses. This has always been the modus operandi of the office of the Denver District Attorney. In the early 1960s 47 Denver police officers were charged as part of a massive burglary ring, but not a single higher up in the police department was brought before the bar of justice even though it was impossible that such a huge criminal enterprise could be going on without the implicit knowledge and consent of members of the top brass.
The blatant CORA criminal violation last year was too much for former DA Mitch Morrissey who said he would have definitely brought charges against Deputy Chief Murray and would have strongly considered charging Chief White. The head of the Denver police union, Nick Rogers, has publicly excoriated McCann indicating that the rank and file were losing all respect for her. McCann made matters worse by going on air with Channel 7’s Tony Kovaleski. She embarrassed herself by endlessly and unsuccessfully trying to hide the fact that her chief deputy had strongly recommended bringing charges.
Following that PR disaster McCann was caught red-handed as part of a scheme to hide the fact that an illegal immigrant, Ricardo Lopez Vera, had killed another inmate in the Denver jail. The Denver Sheriff’s Department had hidden him from ICE as part of the city’s widely acknowledged sanctuary city policy. McCann again compounded her error by doing another media interview this time on the The Craig Silverman Show on 710 KNUS where she was eviscerated by Silverman, a former Denver Chief Deputy DA.
The fact that at age 69 she no longer has the mental acuity she once had was dramatically demonstrated when she used the “f” word on air with Silverman. There are only seven words clearly banned by the FCC for which a radio station can be fined for airing and the “f” word is one of them. After over 40 years in public life, DA McCann is well aware of that limitation, but she is apparently unable to control herself.
Some individuals are mentally sharp well into their 90s while others begin to show serious mental deterioration by their late 60s. Obviously, McCann fits into the latter group.
The sad part is she is just beginning her term as DA. Denver has a woeful habit of endlessly re-electing incumbents no matter their infirmities. It can be expected that McCann, at age 80, will still be the Denver DA at the start of the year 2029. The DA’s office will, of course, be a wreck and utterly rudderless. It is said that people get the government they deserve, but even Denver’s severest critics would say we don’t deserve a District Attorney’s office like the one we now have.
— Editorial Board