In a November 2013 termination letter, a Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office official bulleted reasons to fire Patricia McEachern.
A Denver attorney rebutted the claims, according to documents obtained by The Journal.
In his three-page letter, then-Lt. Adam Eastman listed alleged infractions that included speeding, a shooting and a theft.
On Jan. 19, 2012, according to Eastman, McEachern was observed driving more than 90 mph while responding to a disturbance. She was then barred from the department’s field training officer program.
But Michael Lowe, an attorney with Bruno, Colin & Lowe in Denver, rebutted on Nov. 26, 2013, that McEachern was responding as backup to a call about a man acting violently in the presence of young children. He argued that the call was at night, and McEachern exercised caution while responding with lights and sirens.
On Feb. 14, 2012, according to Eastman, McEachern was suspended for two days and placed on six months’ probation after she allegedly stole a colleague’s smartphone. She was accused of abuse of authority and conduct unbecoming.
In response, Lowe argued that the phone was discovered only after another deputy reported that McEachern was a victim of sexual harassment.
Court records reveal the sheriff’s internal affairs investigation determined that McEachern stole the phone to delete photos she had sent to a deputy while they had an intimate relationship.
Eastman also wrote that on March 7, 2012, McEachern failed to positively identify a shooting suspect before firing her weapon. She was ordered to complete training on use of force, shooting from a vehicle, driving, crime-scene preservation and transition drills.
Lowe argued that the district attorney and sheriff cleared McEachern of any wrongdoing, stating that she acted in accordance with the law and department policy.
Eastman’s letter also stated that on Aug. 17, 2012, McEachern inappropriately used her firearm while detaining a suspect. Lowe rebutted that McEachern wasn’t reprimanded.
Eastman also highlighted an incident in which McEachern reportedly backed her patrol vehicle into a sign on July 14, 2013. She then failed to submit to a drug test in a timely manner, Eastman wrote, and she was suspended without pay for three days.
Lowe countered that McEachern accepted her responsibility and took steps to prevent similar incidents.
In regard to the drug test, Lowe explained that his client was also ordered to organize a re-certification course the same day, so she submitted to the drug screen the following day. The results weren’t released.
Eastman also claimed that McEachern failed to arrive for a required certification course on Sept. 19, 2013. She wasn’t reprimanded, and Lowe attributed the missed training to miscommunication.