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Victim in former Denver police officer misconduct case from 2016 shares her story

TC, who has asked to remain anonymous, said initially her response was ignored.
Denver Police Officer Zachery Phillips
Posted at 9:17 PM, Apr 30, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-30 23:17:39-04

DENVER — Following the recent resignation of Denver Police Officer Zachery Phillips amid a misconduct investigation, a sexual assault victim Phillips allegedly had inappropriate contact with several years ago is sharing her story.

In 2016, a woman who has asked to only be identified TC called 911 to report she was sexually assaulted. TC said officers arrived at the scene a short time later, and she went to the hospital for an exam.

“When I returned home to my residence, I discovered that there was evidence left from the sexual assaults that was never properly collected by the Denver Police Department,” TC said. “So I called 911 a second time. And one of the responding officers was officer Zachary Phillips.” 

TC said her initial interaction with Phillips was positive.

“I reached out to Officer Phillips and sent him an email thanking him for seemingly being compassionate and understanding about the situation. And it was followed by a series of inappropriate text messages,” TC said.

TC said Phillips began telling her to call him, and he would get upset when she did not do what he asked. Over the next year, she said the text messages continued.

“Asking me to let him know when I was no longer with my boyfriend at the time. Asking to take me out for a belated birthday dinner,” TC said, listing his questions. “To be honest, the only reason that I was in communication with him was because he was giving me some insight, information about my case, that I should not have known.”

She became so uncomfortable with Phillips' messages that she reported him to the police department, she said.

“I was hung up on on the phone and my email was blocked by the detective that I initially reported this complaint to,” TC said.

Initial internal investigation documents into Phillips' conduct described his communication with TC as a consensual relationship.

“The reality is that Officer Phillips reached out to me on his personal cell phone and sent me these text messages… which was not just limited to text messaging — it was talking to me on the phone and it was stopping by, unannounced, to my residence,” TC said.

TC reached out to Lisa Calderón, executive director of Women Uprising for help.

“TC reached out to me some years ago because of my police accountability work and said, 'Hey, this happened to me and no one's listening to me.' And we met. She laid out her story and all of the steps that she took to try to get accountability. And I was just floored and outraged,” Calderón said. “Every step of the way, she was blocked or ignored.”

Calderón said Phillips' alleged pattern of misconduct is a sign of bigger issues.

“As it relates to the misconduct and disciplinary letters, there seems to be a pattern, but the responsibility isn't just on him. He had supervisors. We have manager safety who's supposed to be in charge of discipline and making sure that this doesn't happen again," Calderón added.

She continued: "So this has now occurred for multiple women, where alleged misconduct has happened. And essentially, he got a slap on the wrist over and over again to the point where they couldn't ignore it anymore. This is systemic and pervasive sexism at every level of the Denver Police Department. And they need to confront it, they need to admit it. And they need people like TC to inform the changes instead of ignoring her pleas for help."

TC said in 2018, Phillips was punished for his communication with her, but she does not think the punishment was just.

“He received two days suspension for the communication that he had with me,” she said.

This was not the first time Phillips was disciplined for his conduct. In 2017, Phillips was placed on a one-year probation and was suspended for 30 days without pay for allegedly having sex with a sex worker.

The Denver Post reported another internal affairs investigation into Phillips following a February 2023 incident in which Phillip allegedly texted two women and repeatedly drove by the home of one following their call to 911.

Phillips resigned amid that investigation.

In a statement to Denver7, the Department of Public Safety said in part:

The actions that led to the resignation of former Officer Phillips were reprehensible. He clearly abused his position as a police officer, which is why the disciplinary process is critical to public safety operations. As there were different decision makers in the Department of Public Safety in 2017, we cannot speak to the reasons behind the prior disciplinary decision. However, we recognize the concerns with the former officer’s prior conduct and remain committed to continually reviewing disciplinary standards to ensure that individuals who are not suitable to be police officers do not continue to work for the Denver Police Department.

“I spent from 2016 until fairly recently — in the last couple of years — angry at the system, and still trying to understand why this happened, and what could have been done differently. And now, I am in a place where I have healed from the trauma," TC said. "And my purpose is coming forward with my story so that future victims of sexual assault are taken seriously."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Denver7 reached out to former officer Phillips regarding this story but had not received a response at the time the story was published. Denver7 also reached out to the Denver Police Department and requested a photo of Zachery Phillips but were told the department needed permission from the former officer to share his image.

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