AURORA, Colo. – The Aurora interim police chief said Monday, in what she called an effort at transparency, that the department had fired an officer for what she called “severe misconduct” — but the department would only name the officer after repeated requests from multiple media outlets.
Officer Levi Huffine was fired Monday for an incident – which police did not describe – that happened in August 2019, a department spokesperson confirmed.
Originally, Interim Chief Vanessa Wilson said that she fired Huffine “over what I believe to be severe misconduct.”
“This officer’s conduct was completely out of character with the mission, ideals, and expectations of the Aurora Police Department,” Wilson wrote in a statement.
She wrote in the message that her statement that an officer had been fired was an effort to bring transparency to her position and department.
“I promised transparency to our residents to help build back the trust within our community,” Wilson wrote. “Continuing with that promise, I wanted to let you know of my decision today to terminate one of our police officers over what I believe to be severe misconduct.”
But she declined to name the officer or release any details of when or what may have happened, saying that was because of a pending appeals process for city employees.
“I am unable to provide additional details or information about this incident until that process has been complete,” Wilson wrote. “At such time, I will make the body worn camera footage available and address questions from our community members.”
Further requests were made by Denver7 and other local news outlets for information on who the fired officer was and what he did. A spokesperson would only initially say Huffine was fired for a “directive violation.”
About an hour after Wilson’s original statement, spokesperson Matthew Longshore released an additional statement naming Huffine as the officer who had been fired and saying he worked for APD since November 2012.
“It should be noted that this incident is not related to the critical incident involved [sic] Mr. Elijah McClain nor the case of Nate Meier,” Longshore wrote.
Prior Facebook posts by the department showed Huffine had previously received at least one award from the department.
Court records did not show any current cases in Colorado aside from a 2002 speeding charge.
The Aurora Police Department has been under intense scrutiny from community members amid a spate of incidents in recent years. Earlier this month, prosecutors said they could not file charges against a police officer found passed out drunk behind the wheel of his patrol car because the other responding officers failed to pass along information that he was likely intoxicated. District Attorney George Brauchler said: “I don’t think it’s a coverup, but it’s a couple blocks from it.”
They are also under scrutiny for the in-custody death of Elijah McClain, and the former chief resigned last year.
Wilson said when she was named interim chief that she would bring transparency to her new position and work to rebuild the trust of people in Aurora.
“Obviously, the trust in us from the community has been very significantly shaken by previous events we’ve gone through for the past four months,” she said at the time.
Aurora Civil Service Commission spokesperson Matt Cain said Monday evening that Huffine had not submitted an appeal as of 5:30 p.m. Monday. He has 10 days from his termination date to file an appeal.