A Denver police officer was fired for “an extraordinary series of bad decisions” that included an unauthorized car chase, failing to turn on his body camera during the chase, failing to notify the department that the chased car crashed into a innocent person’s garage, trying to conceal damage to his own car with white out and lying in his reports in an attempt to cover up the entire incident.
Officer Nicholas Mauro “so significantly violated the public trust that the only appropriate penalty for this rule violation is termination,” Deputy Director of Denver Public Safety Mary Dulacki wrote in Mauro’s discipline letter.
Another officer, Aldo Salayandia, will serve a 22-day unpaid suspension for participating in the chase, failing to intervene in Mauro’s misconduct and failing to report the misconduct to a supervisor.
Mauro was working patrol on Nov. 19, 2019, when he saw an SUV with a broken tail light get on Interstate 70. He followed the SUV as it exited onto Havana Street and continued to match its speed, at one point reaching 99 mph. He did not turn on his lights or siren.
Mauro then called Salayandia, who was nearby, and told the officer to look for the SUV as it traveled down East 56th Avenue. Salayandia followed the SUV as well, until it crashed into the garage door of a home on Laredo Street. Both officers approached the SUV, but nobody was inside. Mauro reached into the SUV to turn it off, but the SUV instead reversed down the driveway and struck Mauro’s car.
That’s when the lying began.
The homeowner told the officers she didn’t own or recognize the car. Mauro later told the woman via text to file an accident report online, even though policy mandated that he should take a report himself.
Mauro then logged a false report that he simply found the vehicle damaged on the side of the road, several blocks from the woman’s house. He also logged a request that the vehicle be towed from the scene, not mentioning the chase, the crash or the damage to the woman’s house or his own patrol car.
When he returned to the police station, he covered up damage to his car with white out, according to the disciplinary letter.
The woman tried to file a report online, but wasn’t able to so she called dispatch and a corporal came to take her statement and watch video of the incident she retrieved from her doorbell camera. During his follow-up, the corporal found that Mauro lied in his report, failed to report the SUV crashing into the garage and failed to report the accident regarding his own patrol car.
In an interview with internal affairs, Salayandia said he should have taken the lead on the situation, even though he had one less year on the force than Mauro. Salayandia joined the department in 2016 and Mauro joined in 2015.
Mauro, in his interview with internal affairs, acknowledged that he made bad decisions and that he lied to avoid consequences.
“Officer Mauro said he started to panic and that he was scared because he knew the repercussions of what had happened,” the letter states.
Mauro said that he did not activate his body camera because he didn’t want it to show him pursuing the vehicle. He said he told the homeowner that the license plate on the SUV was fake because he didn’t want her to include the plate number in her online report, as it might connect the crash to his false report. He said he lied about finding the damaged SUV because he “feared repercussions.”
Dulacki found that Mauro violated the department’s policy by chasing a vehicle for a traffic violation, failing to file required reports and lying about the entire situation in the reports he did file.
“The totality of these actions and decisions is appalling,” Dulacki wrote in Mauro’s discipline letter.
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