The Sentinel roster of Aurora cops caught lying, beating, cheating or behaving like a racist truly is a hall of shame, but the biggest shame is the state and local systems that let these broken cops keep working.

Reporters from the Sentinel, the Colorado News Collaborative, Rocky Mountain PBS, 9News and Colorado Public Radio released a months-long investigative report detailing how cops in Aurora, and statewide, are not held accountable for myriad shocking offenses. In some cases, they continue working, move to another department or even remain eligible to do so.

All this despite a heroic and hallmark effort in 2020 to push through statewide police reforms in the shadows of George Floyd, Elijah McClain and a parade of other unnerving bad-cop cases in Aurora.

The investigation, “Undisciplined” revealed that a bevy of loopholes in the nascent state law — including no mechanism for going back even a few years — allows cops, some in Aurora, to keep their jobs or remain eligible for work on another Colorado police force.

Local police discipline systems are dubious at best in ensuring the public is made aware of police misbehavior and protected from uniformed felons.  The bulk of the problem, however, lies at the state’s Police Officer Standards and Training system. This is the statewide network that sanctions an officer’s good standing and ability to serve, essentially as a clerical service.

It fails to protect the public in that role.

Consider just a few of the Aurora rogue police officers still working or eligible for police jobs elsewhere:

Edward Acuti was demoted in 2022 after a series of incidents when he threatened members of the public. One time, when the Black occupants of a car were removed from their vehicle during a traffic stop and said they were afraid of the police, Acuti told them to “just keep breathing.” The Aurora’s Civil Service Commission described this as “an undeniable and indefensible reference to the George Floyd shooting and the death of Elijah McClain. Acuti also threatened the officer who reported his behavior to a lieutenant. Acuti was no longer employed by the Aurora Police Department as of October. According to the POST database, he remains POST certified.

Roland Albert pleaded guilty to felony theft in 2019 after stealing tens of thousands of dollars from police charities that had been set up to pay for flights to the funerals of slain cops and also support the families of officers who were killed or injured in the line of duty. He resigned after police officials became aware of the theft. While Albert’s POST profile includes a decertification action and indicates that he is no longer employed by any police department, his certification status is listed as “CERTIFIED.”

Charles DeShazer was fired in 2017 after referring to a group of Black crime witnesses as “Alabama porch monkeys.” His firing was vetoed, and he was reinstated by the Aurora Civil Service commission in 2018. DeShazer had previously been accused of using a racial slur while arresting a Black woman and her daughter in 2006, and the woman subsequently received $175,000 in a settlement with the city. DeShazer’s POST profile indicates that he is currently certified but is no longer employed by APD or any Colorado law enforcement agency.

Matthew Green threatened Elijah McClain with a police dog while the 23-year-old was pinned on the ground in 2019, saying, “If you keep messing around, I’m gonna bring my dog out, and he’s gonna dog-bite you.” An independent city panel found that McClain did not appear to be resisting at the time. According to the same report, Green was disciplined and removed from the department’s canine unit following the incident. Green eventually resigned, but he applied for reinstatement and was rehired earlier this year.

The police rolls in Aurora and across the state are rife with stories of similar cops kept on the job by clubby police looking out for their own.

Aurora police is currently under the grip of a state attorney general consent decree, mandating police reforms in light of apparent “patterns and practices” indicating abusive force use by police and widespread racist behavior, especially against Black people.

Keeping cops on the force like those on the Sentinel “Roster of Shame” is anathema to the police reform city officials consistently say they want to pursue.

Aurora’s newest police administration and the current city manager have been consistent in making clear they support scrubbing bad and dangerous cops from the police force.

We can imagine no better way to make good on those critical promises than to create an independent office of police oversight to create the critical transparency needed to hold rogue officers accountable, and the public informed.

The accountability needed by Aurora, and the state, isn’t an unfair, punitive system that punishes good officers for making mistakes. Calling Black people “porch monkeys,” pistol whipping harmless suspects and stealing from fellow officers aren’t mistakes. They’re crimes. And criminals in police uniforms carrying guns is dangerous and unacceptable.

Fix the system and adhere to it. 

Join the Conversation


  1. This article feels largely one sided and biased itself. I am quite aware there is racism and villainy in ALL forms of public services. But we only focus on one?

  2. The police officers don’t want to work with racist cops. They don’t want to work with corrupt cops. They don’t want to work with cops who are addicted. They don’t want to work with brutal cops. We were always glad when cops in these categories were fired. Unfortunately, that was seldom the case because we were constantly gifted with chiefs who played favorites to maintain their power base and to keep their incompetence and massive egos concealed. The officers want what every citizen deserves. They want to be treated fairly and they want the facts to determine their fate. They do not want to be judged by people who are grossly uninformed about the job and who have an agenda like the popular narrative. They are fully aware that an unfair agenda is being carried out in today’s environment. They are also aware that they have absolutely no voice and no one to represent the facts. Their leaders have completely abdicated their responsibility to the officers. They will not stand up and talk about the problems with the “police reform bill” and the consent decree. Their leaders will not begin to treat them fairly. Prosecutions that were forced after a fair examination are now being arbitrarily pursued in the tragic death of Elijah McClain. If you are going to pursue the officers out of a misguided idea that every mistake has to result in prosecution and firing, then you are not going to have any proactive policing and little real enforcement. The distortions and miscarriage of justice playing out now are not lost on the officers. Let us take the reference to pistol whipping a helpless suspect. First, he was a drug addicted felony suspect who was a problem doing drugs by a business. He was with two other felons who had warrants that advised caution. The other two felons ran and the officer stopped the third who was wanted on a warrant for probation violation for a violent felony (strangulation). He resisted arrest after being told that he had a warrant. He grabbed for the officer’s gun four times before the officer hit him. He continued to try to take the officers gun throughout the struggle. The law says that an officer can use deadly force in that situation. He did not. He could have shot the suspect. He did not. He had limited options with his gun in his hand. The suspect created a highly emotional video by screaming and crying while he continued to try to take the officer’s gun. Thew suspect suffered no serious injury. The head bleeds profusely and it looks bad. The body cam video was too close to show all of the action. The detective, supported by then Chief Wilson, filed charges before he had even picked up all of the videos and interviewed the officers or a complete interview of the suspect (alleged victim). The department charged and vilified the officers without showing anyone the evidence that would have cleared them. I would not have done that to even the worst criminal. They did not even show it to their own officers. Even the Force Review Board was not shown all of the evidence. One officer was convicted because her lawyer did not use the most important evidence. He did not look at it. Just looking for fairness like we try to show in our everyday investigations. We don’t charge out of an agenda. So, the City has not shown an ability to pick competent and fair chiefs. The City has gone along with distortions about racism that have resulted in where we are now. The City has given us politician chiefs for as long as I can remember. Why would we believe that the City is capable of picking people who are fair and informed to review police work? First, virtually none of you understand even the basics of police work. When you are constantly fooled by the smooth talking incompetent chiefs, why would we believe that you can make fair and competent judgments? You don’t want to hear the police officer’s explanation. You don’t even want anyone involved who might give a different viewpoint. Is that a fair evaluation of anything? You only want what fits your narrative. You want fairness. We want fairness. Open up the system and let the officers talk. You want transparency but you are afraid to hear what the officers have to say. Really open up the system. It will open your eyes.

  3. Don, by not referring to the rogue, bad cops in the article, you support them. You should be holding them up as evidence that the system for identifying and dealing with bad cops works. Pity their fellow officers didn’t play active roles in getting them out of the system.

    I admire camaraderie and team identity, but these ‘thin blue line’ and ‘us against them’ attitudes are what prevent meaningful reform from taking hold. As to ‘listening to the officers’ when are they going to speak up? Police work is about bravery and living by a code and an oath. Being afraid to work to get rid of racist and corrupt cops, whose actions are used to define you, and who you may need to depend on for your life, seems kind of cowardly.

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