Questions raised over phone records in woman's disputed arrest

Posted at 6:01 PM, Apr 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-27 21:56:11-04

DENVER -- New questions are being raised over whether cell phone records contradict a Denver Police Department deputy chief's account of a woman's arrest. 

In May of 2016, then-district attorney Mitch Morrissey wrote a letter to Denver’s police chief criticizing the arrest of Angiella Arnot. Police arrested Arnot one day after they arrested former DPD officer Davin Munk. Both were accused of sexually assaulting a woman but were released within days when Morrissey’s office determined there was not enough evidence to press charges. In his letter, Morrissey said Arnot was innocent of the charges.

Morrissey’s criticisms focused on Deputy Chief Matt Murray’s leadership of the investigation. But Murray told Denver7 Investigates in January that the district attorney had his facts wrong and he was camping on the day Arnot was arrested and he did not have any involvement with the decision to arrest her. Murray said his involvement was confined to the investigation and arrest of Munk.

“Charges were never filed against Ms. Arnot. Should she have been arrested?” Denver7 chief investigative reporter Tony Kovaleski asked Murray in January.

“Yes, with the information that we had at the time,” Murray responded. “I wasn't present, I wasn't directing it, I don't know what the detectives had developed at that point. I only knew the allegations on the first night. I have a receipt in here that I'm providing you that I was out of town, so I was no longer a part of that investigation.”

“You had nothing to do with the decision to arrest?” Kovaleski asked.

“Nothing. I did nothing. I was out of town on vacation,” Murray said. “I wasn't present, I wasn't consulted, I wasn't getting that information.”

Murray provided to Denver7 Investigates a receipt for a Colorado campground beginning May 4, the day police took Arnot into custody. But the deputy chief’s cell phone records show he received several work-related phone calls that day, including multiple calls with the deputy district attorney and internal affairs commander involved in the sexual assault investigation.

DPD investigative records show that in the overnight hours of May 4, police searched Munk’s home and talked to Munk’s brother about a woman named “Angel” believed to be involved in the sexual assault. 

Phone records indicate three calls happened before 7 a.m. on the day Arnot was arrested. The first of the calls lasted about 11 minutes, the second about two minutes, and the third less than one minute.

Arnot says she was arrested around 5 p.m. that evening. After that, records show an internal affairs investigator called Murray twice in calls totaling about 13 minutes.

Neither Murray nor the deputy DA nor the internal affairs commander would answer questions about what was discussed in the phone calls on the day of Arnot’s arrest, each citing an ongoing independent investigation launched by the Department of Safety into the circumstances of the case. Arnot says the records make her doubt Murray’s statements he had no involvement on the day she was arrested.

“What do those phone calls say to you?” Kovaleski asked Arnot in an interview this week.

“That he lied. If he... if he didn't have anything to do with it, why are there phone records?” Arnot responded.

Nick Rogers, the president of the Denver Police Protective Association, also said the phone records raise important questions.

“The phone records are very clear that he was still involved in this investigation… to what extent, I don't know,” Rogers said.

When asked about the phone records, Murray said in a statement, "It would be inappropriate for me to comment as there is an investigation underway regarding the matter."

But on the day the phone records were released by the city, Murray wrote on Twitter, “GET READY! More inaccurate, incomplete, and inflammatory fake news coming soon!”

Murray did not respond to questions about the tweet and did not provide any information to refute any inaccuracies he predicted would be reported.

The dispute between the police department and the former district attorney did not become public until after the term-limited Morrissey left office in January, when Denver7 Investigates obtained the letter written by the former DA criticizing Arnot’s arrest.

DPD had previously denied a pair of records requests filed by the police union for any correspondence between Chief White and Morrissey about the case. The department ultimately turned over the letters to the union in the days after Denver7 Investigates contacted DPD with questions about the records. DPD explained the delay by saying the chief’s secretary did not initially realize she had the letters on her computer.

In addition to the independent investigation into the matter commissioned by the city, the district attorney’s office is also investigating whether the police department violated open records laws by failing to initially release the letters. 

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