Littleton City Manager Michael Penny fired after Denver7 investigation into murder-suicide

Posted at 7:31 AM, Jun 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-15 20:22:23-04

Littleton's city manager was fired by Littleton's City Council late Tuesday night, Denver7 Investigates has learned.

Michael Penny was appointed city manager in August 2011.

A high-ranking city source told Denver7 Investigates the now former-city manager's handling of our investigation into a murder-suicide played a major role in the council's decision.

Murder-suicide investigation

On Jan. 6, 2016, police said David Fallon shot Christa Benton then killed himself.

Twelve hours before the gunfire, Benton’s 18-year-old son, Tyler Jewkes, called 911 asking for an ambulance, and told a dispatcher his mother was “screaming about her neck” being injured during a loud physical argument with her boyfriend. Police responded but left less than 30 minutes later without arresting Fallon.

Jewkes 14-year-old brother, Jonathan Fallon, told Denver7 he asked responding officers to arrest his father.

But police left without arresting anyone, writing in a report simply: “Allegations of physical contact but no evidence."

“He and his department made a mistake that day by not doing their job and you know it cost me my mom,” Tyler told Denver7 Investigates.

Police reports

The responding officer wrote a one-sentence police report.

Littleton police chief Doug Stephens told Denver7 Investigates he asked the officer to rewrite the report.

"I asked for additional information from that officer, 'can you please be more specific, give more detail on what we did on that call?'” Stephens said.

The responding officer then wrote a six-paragraph report detailing why he did not believe there was probable cause to arrest Fallon.

The original report was then deleted from Littleton’s computer system, and the city’s records custodians did not turn it over when Denver7 Investigates filed a public records request for "all reports and records created or written referencing any and all police activity" at the apartment building where Benton and Fallon lived between Jan. 4 and Jan. 31.” Denver7 Investigates followed up with three separate emails asking whether the city had turned over every version of the reports and city officials did not respond.

“Have you been able to figure out why multiple requests asking for all reports were not provided for us? Do you see why we felt that maybe there was some attempt to mislead us?” Denver7 chief investigative reporter Tony Kovaleski asked Stephens.

“I totally understand the confusion on your part, as well as ours,” Stephens responded. “The open records requests, when you're talking about the kind of documentation that we can generate on a case of this nature, a homicide suicide case … it's a lot of documentation. We have to be very careful that we release what we can release, what we're legally authorized to release, and there's a lot of people in our city that are involved in that decision.”

Read more of our interview with Chief Stephens here.

Sources now say the mishandling of our request, and creating the appearance of a cover-up, played a major role in Penny's dismissal.


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