By on May 24, 2012

Anyone who has watched Harvey Keitel and/or Nicholas Cage chew up the scenery in the two “Bad Lieutenant” movies knows how delightful it can be to be a truly evil policeman. The problem, of course, is that most cops aren’t anything like that. Officer Derrick Saunders, on the other hand, does all the fun stuff that us civvies like to think we’d do with the protection of the badge. When McDonald’s was a little slow with his order, he allegedly put a pistol in someone’s face about it. Come on! You’d do the same thing, wouldn’t you? And when he felt like having a drink and busting along at one hundred and forty-three awesome miles per hour, he just went ahead and did it!

Now, thanks to TTAC reader dfp21, we have an update on the kind of swift justice that the system has meted out to Officer Saunders.

According to the Daily Caller, “troubled policeman” Saunders was reinstated by a three-person Civil Service Commission panel.

“[T]he disciplinary action of termination far exceeds the discipline given to other officers in comparative or greater misconduct cases,” the commissioners said.

What’s “comparative” to this? Did some cop get lit up recently and tool down the freeway at 142 miles per hour? City safety manager Alex Martinez is appealing the reinstatement, but while he does, Officer Saunders’ license to kill is back in full e-fizz-ect, yo. TTAC’s advice for Denver residents? Better hurry up with those fries.

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87 Comments on “The 143MPH Policeman Returns To Work...”


  • avatar
    APaGttH

    And the police state wonder why the civvies distrust the resident super citizens.

    NOW GIVE ME THE FRACKIN’ FRIES! GIVE THEM TO ME! AND KETCHUP! I WANT FIVE PACKETS DAMN IT!!! GIVE ‘EM TO ME NOW!!!

  • avatar
    jjster6

    Why should he punished… not like he save the life of a five year old kid who was running wild in a parking lot near a river.

  • avatar
    tbhride

    He probably just wanted his liter-a-cola!

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    He is a cop and he’s learning impaired…

  • avatar
    Botswana

    All I can think of is what would happen to someone who did the same thing that wasn’t a police officer?

    The people who enforce the law should not be above the law.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      One of my sons is a State Cop in another state and teaches at the Academy. He told me that this is not what they teach at the Academy, and that this guy is definitely a cop gone rogue.

      Obviously this state lowered the bar on the entry exam. In my son’s state, this guy would be fired on the spot. Some officers were fired for a lot less cause, but none of them were black.

      • 0 avatar
        random1

        Right, because being black is such an advantage in receiving justice.

      • 0 avatar
        VA Terrapin

        Are you saying the less white someone appears, the more advantages they get in disciplinary matters? That good ole boy networks, legacy hires/admissions, and biases based on how much someone’s looks or names deviate from the racial mainstream always work to a white person’s disadvantage?

      • 0 avatar
        Fromes

        Being a member of any minority pays huge dividends in civil service. Its well known that blacks do not have to score as high as whites on many fire/police exams to be considered for the position

      • 0 avatar
        skor

        @Fromes

        Scoring high on the police test works against you, no matter what color you are. This court case proves it.

        http://www.nytimes.com/1999/09/09/nyregion/metro-news-briefs-connecticut-judge-rules-that-police-can-bar-high-iq-scores.html

      • 0 avatar
        VA Terrapin

        Fromes,

        While I don’t doubt that in certain cases, minority applicants get preferential treatment in civil service job applications, once you factor out non-racial factors like wealth, educational levels, etc., it’s still a lot easier being white in America than being non-white in terms of total life experience. I can talk about all sorts of racism in America in professional and cultural matters, but that’s not the scope of this website.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Which is why “police officers” were just deputized civilians back when America still retained elements of a civilized society.

  • avatar
    PaulVincent

    Prison is where he belongs.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    If they decided to reinstate him, he must be hanging something over their heads. Maybe there are other cops who have done worse who were reinstated quietely and he and his defense team know?

    Either way, he shouldn’t be on the street protecting and defending the citizens of Denver. Glad I’m no where near Colorado.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      Good point. He must have them by the short hairs.

      • 0 avatar
        PhilMills

        As Pch101 points out, Denver PD has some serious problems. The “old boys’ club” nature of the review board is a constant news item in the local papers to the point where I’m pretty sure a Denver police officer would have to basically kidnap the Pope and force him to eat nachos until he exploded before he’d be really at risk of losing his job.
        Denver’s been unable to hire anyone to head up the civilian oversight committee for a LONG time now and many are taking that as a sign that the oversight committee would be effectively powerless.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “Maybe there are other cops who have done worse who were reinstated quietly”

      Nothing quiet about it. Other cops have been reinstated after committing physical violence:

      http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2011/09/michael_deherrera_beating_reinstatement_fired_cops_video.php

      http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2012/01/police_brutality_ricky_nixon_reinstated_alex_landau.php

      Saunders was guilty of DWAI (basically, a “wet reckless”) and some sort of speeding offense. No violence, no injuries.

  • avatar
    gator marco

    This guy won’t lose his job until someone is dead. And that someone will probably be an innocent bystander to some other stupid cop stunt.
    The city of Denver (read: taxpayers) will of course have to write a big check to clean up the mess.
    Justice Scalia’s “new professionalism” at work.

  • avatar
    tparkit

    “The disciplinary action of termination far exceeds the discipline given to other officers in comparative or greater misconduct cases,” the commissioners said.

    That is doubtless true, in an environment where almost no disciplinary action is taken, ever, against any officer for anything. (Unless suspension with pay counts as discipline.)

    It’s not for nothing that the body the reviewers belong to is called the Civil Service Commission, and not the Public Service Commission.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking did he fire 6 shots or only 5. In all this excitement, I’ve kinda lost track myself. But seeing as how this is a .44 magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you gotta ask yourself one question. Do I supersize his order, or not ? Well, do you, PUNK ?

  • avatar
    VA Terrapin

    When can we see stories of white people behaving badly in cars? Preferably, you should have big, clear portraits of the offending whites just below the headlines.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      You must be new here.

      https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/05/maximum-street-speed-explained-part-ii/

      https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/02/editorial-the-truth-about-driver-training-and-the-myth-of-active-safety/

      Aw, hell:

      https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/author/jack-baruth/

      If you have something to say about race and bias, put on your big-girl panties and say it.

      • 0 avatar
        VA Terrapin

        Jack Baruth said: you must be new here… If you have something to say about race and bias, put on your big-girl panties and say it.

        I’ve been reading TTAC ever since Robert Farago had his GM death watch series.

        If you’re really interested in what I have to say about race in TTAC, you can read the comments section in the two articles below:

        https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/review-2012-subaru-impreza-2-0i-limited/

        https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/watch-a-child-run-over-three-times-or-don%E2%80%99t/

      • 0 avatar
        shaker

        No Tim Russ?

        Hmm – is it racist to not like Black Vulcans? :-)

        Rats – wrong reply –

    • 0 avatar

      I’m hurt. I used that same mug shot when I reported on this story a while back here at TTAC and nobody called me a racist. How come only Baruth gets spurious accusations of racism?

      Unless you can show that TTAC or Jack have a pattern of only posting pictures of non-whites (whatever that means – a minority of Americans are not mixed race, at least that’s what DNA tests show) who commit traffic crimes, you owe Mr. Baruth and this site an apology.

      Had it been a mullet tressed white dude with a wife-beater, I doubt you would have complained about casting trailer trash in a negative light.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        Clearly I am a MONSTER RACIST.

        Indeed, I can see how someone who has never met me, never been to my house, never seen me play music, never read my resume, never spoken to any of my friends or business partners, or never read a single other article I’ve written might be able to come up with that idea by looking at a photograph.

        Maybe.

      • 0 avatar
        VA Terrapin

        Ronnie,

        Race has to do mainly with political and cultural factors. Genetics is a superficial factor in determining race. 150 years ago, many Americans would have considered Irish, Southern and Eastern Europeans to be non-white. Now, most Americans consider Irish, Southern and Eastern Europeans to be white.

        As for what I would object to, I don’t see individual criminal acts committed in cars as relevant to a car enthusiast website, so I don’t like these articles on TTAC regardless of the perp’s race. If TTAC can tie articles like this to an overall automotive trend, that would be more relevant to a car enthusiast website, but that’s not what’s happening here.

        I’ve already mentioned the racial angle of articles like this when commenting about the following article:
        https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/watch-a-child-run-over-three-times-or-don%E2%80%99t/

        Jack,

        Don’t take things personally here. If you can’t tell by now, I’m talking about editorial decisions, not you personally. I don’t like stories like this on TTAC regardless of the perp’s race. But if TTAC insists on running stories like this, why does TTAC make the offender a lot more clear to see if the offender is non-white vs. white?

      • 0 avatar
        Caboose

        But Jack, you’re white, ergo a racist.

        TTAC should hire LeVar Burton forthwith, so that he can post the damned story and we can all take his damned word for it.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        FWIW, I fully support the hiring of Levar Burton, Avery Brooks, Michael Dorn, or Nichelle Nichols.

        But not Tim Russ.

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        Actually somebody needs to track Mr. Burton down and get him to come on TTAC and just hang out.

  • avatar

    Un-be-effing-lievable.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    “The problem, of course, is that most cops aren’t anything like that.”

    This is one of those statements where the more it is said, the more obvious its falsehood becomes.

    • 0 avatar
      moedaman

      The majority of people (not all of them) I know who became, are currently or who retired as cops are bullies. The lure of power with little repercussions brings them in.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        People, like animals, tend to keep pushing boundaries unless they get push back. Same goes for once decent people who enter above-the-law police departments.

        Which is why, in civilized societies, law enforcement is done by civilians on a case by case basis. Noone is above the law. No old boys club gets to be formed. And if someone enters your home unannounced, you are expected to shoot them. Regardless of whether he happens to be wearing a government issued clown suit or not.

  • avatar

    ““[T]he disciplinary action of termination far exceeds the discipline given to other officers in comparative or greater misconduct cases,” the commissioners said.”

    I find this the most troubling part of the story. Taking it as face value it means that Saunders isn’t the worst case of a rogue cop in Colorado that’s still on the job.

    • 0 avatar
      PhilMills

      Quoting tparkit above, because I think he hit the nail on the head:

      “That is doubtless true, in an environment where almost no disciplinary action is taken, ever, against any officer for anything. (Unless suspension with pay counts as discipline.)”

  • avatar
    Mullholland

    Everybody who’s intoxicated and driving 142 MPH on public roads is the same color: Stupid.

  • avatar
    nikita

    A Fullerton, CA cop on trial for murder (on the job) still hasn’t been fired.

  • avatar

    “When you break the law, you’re a punk. When you break the law with a badge, you’re a punk with a badge.” -Defendor

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1303828/

  • avatar
    alluster

    Protect and Serve: Protecting their own and serving their own self-interests. The incident where a Hermosa Cop fakes a crash to get hefty workers comp claims and his police brotherhood assisting him takes the cake.

    http://www.laweekly.com/2012-03-22/news/hermosa-cop-rear-end-nightmare/

  • avatar
    KrisZ

    Why are the plebs concerning themselves with what Police or our leaders are doing? They should be paying taxes, watching “reality TV” and worrying about climate change.
    Nothing to see here.

  • avatar
    Fromes

    It’s funny a lot of my friends are cops and all of them feel like they’re above the law, especially when it comes to driving (off or on duty)
    I once asked my buddy why he issues tickets for things he does when he isn’t working ie speeding, no seat belt etc. His response was it was a right he has earned has a police officer.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      The war cry of contemporary American ProgTopia: Stand up for your “rights”; virtually none of which are anything but made up drivel, designed to justify an army of tax feeding leeches picking over the carcass of what once aspired to be a civilization.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    This guy’s a civil lawsuit waiting to happen.

    It’s pretty certain he’s also a pariah on the force.

    The good cops (I for one believe that MOST of them are…) will eventually and quietly correct this situation. Good cops can’t work with other, unpredictable and therefor dangerous cops whom they can’t trust….no one wants a loose cannon as a partner.

    I suspect if we bother to check back in a year, this lout will be workin’ security at a Jack-in-the-Box. Eventually his STUPID driving will Darwinize him. I just hope he doesn’t take someone with him with this assinine behaviors…..

    • 0 avatar
      Botswana

      Sadly, history shows that is not true. The good cops, who I believe often are in the majority, will not go against an administration that tolerates bad behavior.

      That was the hard lesson learned by the NYPD in the 70’s. You should read up on Frank Serpico, a really sad tale of who police corruption can affect the whole force.

      Not to mention pre-Katrina New Orleans PD was known for its widespread corruption.

      My local, big city, PD has had a fair number of scandals a few years ago. Despite charges of illegal drug trafficking the only reason anyone was dismissed because of the VERY large public outcry.

      During my own brief stint at a Sheriff’s office we had some questionable officers but since they were tolerated no one spoke up. The union would have stood up for them anyway.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    “Good cops can’t work with other, unpredictable and therefor dangerous cops whom they can’t trust….no one wants a loose cannon as a partner.”-That statement is obviously, patently not true. They do it all the time.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      According to every 80’s cop movie I’ve seen, it actually works out pretty well:

      Exasperated Veteran gets paired with Loose Cannon. They eventually become friends, cause tremendous amounts of property damage, and save the day.

      All this despite interference from a Stupid Chief and/or Internal Affairs Weasel.

      • 0 avatar
        MeaCulpa

        Or for the modern take*, homeless people has a gangbang party in a Prius. WATCH http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slCt05_iiGQ then http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWmNIgKlsEA&feature=related

        *The other guys

  • avatar
    skor

    Oh, please, these “rouge” cops you speak of are all amateurs compared to Jersey cops. Where else can you get convicted of witness tampering and insurance fraud and still keep your job as chief of police?

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    I see that all of the commenters — and brother Jack — missed the real point of this little piece: CIVIL SERVICE and the Police Union. The problem is, at the state/local level, it is extraordinarily difficult to fire people for malfeasance short of convicting them of a crime. You will see the same kind of problem with the “rubber rooms” of the New York City public school department, where they put teachers that are so awful they don’t dare let them in a classroom, but can’t fire them . . . with full pay of course.

    Like a civil service employees, this guy has a “due process” right to his job, which you and I and every private employee/business or professional don’t have. That means he can only be discharged after a trial-type hearing, with multiple levels of appeal. And, while all this is going on, he’s getting full pay.

    Needless to say, the sheer cost of this process (borne by taxpayers) is a huge deterrent to invoking it . . . which is precisely the point.

    Well, I have to admit one exception: other unionized private employees probably have similar, though not as elaborate, protection.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    [re DC Bruce] You are completely correct about police unions. Derrick Saunders is a symptom, police unions are the illness. There are problems with all public sector unions, but redundant bureaucrats just sit behind desks, they don’t literally get away with murder like bad cops.

    If Derrick Saunders was in the army he would have been dishonorably discharged or court-martialed. Why? No union.

    Private sector unions, no matter how you feel about them, are different. They do not offer nearly the amount of protection that public sector unions do. They face a serious adversary on the other side of the negotiating table, not a campaign contribution recipient.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Probably said many times before in the earlier comments… but this man should not only be fired for cause, he should be in jail, and be stripped of his license.

  • avatar
    areader

    I think a significant factor in the stuff cops get away with is the cowardice of politicians, and general public, in challenging cops. If this action had been taken by another type of civil servant, unionized or not, the perpetrator would have been long gone and probably have done some jail time. Look at Wisconsin.

    From a Wikipedia blurb:

    “Walker’s budget-repair bill would require most state and local government and school district employees to pay at least 5.8% of their pension costs and 12.6% of their health care premiums, while eliminating most collective bargaining, except for wages, within strict limits. But none of those changes would apply to police officers, firefighters, sheriff’s deputies or state troopers.”

    In NYC, a cop has 48 hours after an incident before they have to give testimony. So even if they kill someone with multiple shots, a beating etc., they have plenty of time to get their stories straight. Cops are special regardless of union status. In PG Country Maryland, they’ve had cops on the force whom the prosecutor won’t even try to use as witnesses.

  • avatar
    Mark in Maine

    It was probably the only “Ziggy” cartoon I’ve read in my life, but it summed this up pretty well – Ziggy is standing on the sidewalk, watching a black-and-white drive by. Surrounding the emblem on the police car’s door is the phrase: “We’re the Police and you’re not” . . .

  • avatar
    wmba

    Things are different where I am, at least some of the time. This is the second case in the past few years. However, tasering people who subsequently die due to indifference of their condition is tolerated.

    http://www.globalmaritimes.com/halifax+police+officer+loses+licence+after+impaired+driving+conviction/6442634288/story.html

  • avatar
    Wheeljack

    Sheesh…and you guys think the UAW is bad….

  • avatar
    stuart

    At a coffeeshop near my home, a San Jose policeman shot a man to death after the man threatened the officer with a plastic lawn chair. The coffeshop had imposed a no-smoking policy on their sidewalk, and the man was violating the policy. The account below differs in many respects with what I recall from the San Jose newspaper… Today, smoking is again permitted on that sidewalk, but there are … fewer immigrant customers.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2004/09/27/BAGQM8VIN41.DTL

    The officer was not disciplined over the incident.

    stuart

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    I wonder if this has always been an issue in the USA but few people heard about it and now because of the internet more people are hearing about these types of things. Or have things indeed gotten worse?

    Considering the history of events in Denver, sounds like a good idea to me to avoid Denver.

  • avatar
    28-cars-later

    They might make him ride a desk, unless I missed something in the article it doesn’t explicitly mean back on duty equals back on patrol. I would think the gun episode is enough to charge him with something, I’m surprised they didn’t… since DA’s in these parts love that kinda stuff. This wasn’t a longtime good cop who snapped ‘Falling Down’ style and is being protected, this is a thug with a badge. People should be judged by their actions and content of character, not their skin. Not sure what happened here but hopefully there are enough level headed people in Denver PD who will protect the public from this lunatic.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “They might make him ride a desk, unless I missed something in the article it doesn’t explicitly mean back on duty equals back on patrol.”

      Saunders was terminated. Saunders appealed his termination. With this decision, Saunders won his appeal.

      That doesn’t mean that it’s over. The police department can still appeal the termination, and if the department maintains its claimed position, then it will appeal. There’s nothing in the order that talks about whether he can or can’t work if the police department appeals.

      Mr. Baruth took a factual leap with the headline. It would have been more accurate if the headline was along the lines of “Saunders Wins Appeal, May Return to Work”.

      It should also be noted that Saunders denied the gun charge, and was tried and acquitted of it. It’s prejudicial to keep bringing it up, particularly since there is a court decision that says otherwise.

      Also, he was not convicted of DUI, but of DWAI, which is a lesser charge.

  • avatar
    modelt1918

    I live in a suburb of Denver and I don’t go there. I will go downtown to the car show once a year and I might go looking for this pick-a-part that Murilee always writes about but,I will never go into Denver on a regular basis.

  • avatar
    oldyak

    I was taught that policemen were ‘our friends’ and have no major complaints against them.But my sons next door neighbor is on the local police force and he is not quite right…..
    Many ,many years ago in England the police force was made up of thieves…since they would know ‘who the bad guys are’.
    I think the young and stupid officers are like any other young kid with a full time job…immature and a little crazy….
    but they carry a gun and can do really stupid stuff legally.
    With all this..I still want him to protect me and my family!

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    @Skor- I believe that the “rouge cops” that you speak of work on the vice squad.

  • avatar
    don1967

    Sorry to disappoint the TTAC herd, but I was raised by a cop and I hardly ever eat immigrant babies for breakfast.

    As for the cop in question being reinstated despite his obvious lack of suitability for the profession, two words: Police Union.

  • avatar
    alluster

    Taxpayers are better off with Mr Saunders back on duty. If he gets fired, we’d have to pay for his pension, benefits & healthcare, pay for his replacement, and around 10 million once he files and wins a lawsuit for racial discrimination and wrongful termination.

    Not much we can do about it, when the guy we elected by an overwhelming majority goes to bed with the very wall st, union and big oil scumbags he was supposed to protect us from.

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