Denver, CO -- A Denver cop has been arrested and suspended without pay after his own body camera footage caught him stealing $1,200 in cash from a crash victim.
Instead of helping an unconscious crash victim, officer Julian Archuleta took advantage of the situation for his own personal gain by going through the man's clothing and robbing him. Archuleta now faces charges of misdemeanor theft, 1st-degree official misconduct and tampering with physical evidence.
According to an arrest affidavit, Archuleta responded to a call of shots fired in the early morning hours of October 7. The call then led to a short pursuit which ended as the car crashed. The driver got away while the passenger of the vehicle was knocked unconscious.
Archuleta's body camera then recorded the officer for the next 24 minutes and 40 seconds. In the footage, he took pictures of the scene and then searched the man's clothing which had been removed by paramedics.
In the video, Archuleta finds a stack of cash in the man's pants with a $100 bill on top, according to the arrest affidavit. He then separates the $100 bill from the stack and a $1 bill remains on top.
Throughout the footage, Archuleta shuffles money and rearranges paperwork in his patrol car, the affidavit said.
According to the Denver Post, when a detective collected the cash and logged it into the property bureau as evidence, he counted $118 and did not find any $100 bills, the affidavit said. But while reviewing Archuleta’s body camera footage as part of the investigation, the detective noticed the $100 bill.
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Amazingly enough, instead of covering up the theft, the detective crossed the thin blue line and reported the inconsistency with the $100 bill to internal affairs. When confronted by investigators, Archuleta told them he would “check his war bag” to see if any of the money had slipped into a crevice in his patrol car.
According to the arrest affidavit, Archuleta called the detective back an hour later and claimed he found 12 $100 bills that “must have fallen in his bag.” After being caught red-handed, Archuleta then turned in the money.
According to the Post, the Denver district attorney’s office declined to prosecute the shooting suspect because of the missing cash and because Archuleta allegedly moved evidence inside the suspect’s vehicle before detectives had a search warrant, the affidavit said.
Earlier this year, the Denver police department was equipped with body cameras. We now know why it took so long for the department to adopt them. Archuleta will now go down in history as the first Denver cop to be criminally charged based on body camera evidence.
Like most cases of police theft, this incident is not isolated. In fact, just 2 months ago, Grants Police Department Sgt. Roshern C. McKinney, 33, was arrested after an investigation found that he'd stolen both money and marijuana from the police department. Like Archuleta, he entire theft was captured on the officer's own body camera. McKinney has since been charged with marijuana distribution, conspiracy, and felony embezzlement.
State police also charged McKinney's 23-year-old girlfriend Tanicka Gallegos-Gonzales, for drug distribution and conspiracy. Both were arrested in Albuquerque and booked into the Sandoval County Detention Center, according to KOB.
Public Information Officer for the New Mexico State Police, Elizabeth Armijo said Grants police chief, Craig Vandiver alerted state police after the department found video from Mckinney's lapel camera that “exposed possible illicit activity by a Grants Police Department sergeant.”
What does it say about the criminal tendency of some police officers when they are unable to practice restraint from theft -- knowing that they are being recorded?