The Cortez Journal obtained all performance evaluations, internal affairs investigations and employment agreements and salaries of eight officers involved with the Feb. 14, 2014, arrest of Shane French.
Charged with assaulting multiple police officers, French, 38, was acquitted on all charges by a jury in early December after a defense based on the state’s Make My Day law.
The city released the public documents late last week. Included in the reports was a letter of reprimand for patrol officer Casey Eubanks, who allegedly suffered a minor stab wound from French during the Valentine’s Day arrest.
Issued by the Cortez Police Department on Feb. 18, 2014, the internal affairs investigation report included mandatory counseling for Eubanks after he displayed “uncontrolled anger” the night of French’s arrest.
According to the one-page report, Eubanks “purposely” destroyed city property by delivering “several knee strikes” to a patrol car after the arrest.
“Officer Eubanks, becoming so upset that you would destroy property in a fit of rage is unacceptable and a cause of concern for this department and the City of Cortez,” wrote Lt. Andy Brock.
Eubanks was ordered to seek mandatory counseling once a week from city human resources director Gay Hall until he was “able to control” his anger.
In the reprimand letter, Eubanks was also cited for “bringing outside issues to work” and “excessive phone use.”
“While at work you need to have a clear mind and be able to concentrate on work, this is for your safety as well as your fellow officers and the public’s safety,” wrote Brock.
Brock, Eubanks and Chief Roy Lane signed the internal affairs report.
Employed with the Cortez Police Department as a patrol officer since July 2012, Eubanks’ starting salary with the city was $15.42 per hour. Appraisal records indicate Eubanks has been an average employee.
According to salary records, Eubanks received a merit raise five months after the French arrest. He currently earns $18.40 per hour, about $38,000 a year.
According to city records, none of other seven officers involved with the French arrest were reprimanded. One of them, patrol officer Boyd Neagle, admitted under oath that he violated the department’s stun gun policy during French’s arrest.
During last month’s trial, patrol officer Neagle testified that he violated policy by failing to issue a verbal warning before deploying his stun gun, and failing to include a stun gun form with his arrest report. Neagle also disclosed that he electrocuted the defendant seven times, including five times within 2½ minutes while French was in handcuffs, a clear violation of department policy, Neagle said.
Employed with the department since August 2012, Neagle’s starting salary was $15.42 per hour. He received a raise six months after the French arrest, and currently earns $18.40 per hour, about $38,272 a year.
Performance reviews indicate that Neagle’s job performance also was average.
Under Colorado’s Make My Day law, a resident may use force in defense of self, others or a dwelling. According to one juror in the case, the jury decided that French was trying to protect his family from the officers, who arrived at the home in response to a 911 call made by his mother.
The juror also said there was consensus on the jury that police officers used excessive force when arresting French.
“Mr. French shouldn’t have been arrested,” the juror said.
An email to police seeking to determine if Eubanks had successfully completed his anger management counseling, whether Neagle was ever reprimanded for violating department policy or if the department had required any additional use of force training for its officers went unanswered as of press time.