Denver: New head of DPD Internal Affairs shocks victims of police terrorism

From the Denver Post:

Denver Police Chief Robert White looks at Division Chief Mary Beth Klee’s experience and attitude and sees the right person for the difficult job of policing the police.

Sharelle Thomas, shoved by an officer during a chaotic arrest in front of the Denver Diner in 2009, says the appointment to head the Internal Affairs Bureau makes a mockery of White’s pledge to improve the department.

Klee, 53, was one of the senior officers who reviewed internal affairs’ investigation into the Denver Diner case involving Officers Ricky Nixon and Kevin Devine. Devine arrived after Nixon called for backup during a fight in the diner.

Devine, at one point, pulled Thomas and forced her to the ground, according to testimony. Nixon pepper-sprayed Thomas and others.

Internal affairs investigated, and then-Manager of Safety Charles Garcia fired Devine and Nixon for deception.

Klee was one of three police supervisors who concluded that the officers acted appropriately in the situation and recommended no action be taken against them.

The appointment “is appalling,” Thomas said. “It seems like she is more interested in covering up rather than protecting the public.”

White said he has been impressed with Klee’s experience and her attitude in conversations with her. Klee is a 29-year department veteran who worked as an investigator in internal affairs during her early years on the force.

Klee’s appointment is one piece of the changes that White said he has planned for internal affairs. Among other things, he plans to move some smaller units out of the bureau.

The Civil Service Commission temporarily reinstated Nixon and Devine on Monday until it can hear an appeal by the city of an earlier ruling overturning their firing.

The two will be assigned to positions that don’t require them to patrol the streets, police spokesman Sonny Jackson said.

Thomas and three other women involved in the Denver Diner incident have sued the city and county of Denver and Nixon and Devine in federal court.

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