Home Latest News Fort Collins Police Officer Charged With Catching Sober Drivers For DUI

Fort Collins Police Officer Charged With Catching Sober Drivers For DUI

Just days after the filing of a March 30 lawsuit alleging that the Loveland Police Department was conducting a DUI scheme for “money and sports,” Derrick Groves was arrested by Fort Collins police officer Jason Haferman for allegedly under influence, despite showing no signs. of impairment — and the case was later dropped after a blood test was found to be free of intoxicants.

Attorney Matthew Haltzman of the Fort Collins-based Haltzman Law Firm, which represents Groves, is currently investigating the case, and has learned, among other things, that a judge has found issues with Haferman’s testimony in a DUI trial in March. This finding prompted the Larimer County District Attorney’s office to issue a document on Haferman, similar to a so-called Brady letter, stating that certain law enforcement officers suffer from potential credibility issues if called on to testify at trial. — although the DA’s office disagrees with this conclusion.

Such discoveries suggest that what happened to Groves “is part of a broader practice,” Haltzman says. “We’re talking about a series of events and seeing them in multiple departments in northern Colorado — and it’s terrifying.”

But Fort Collins law enforcement is going back and forth on his claims about the Groves case.

According to Haltzman, “Derrick contacted my office shortly after he was arrested by Officer Haferman, and it wasn’t the typical call I get. He said, ‘I’ve been arrested for drink-driving, but you should know I’m completely sober. and there was nothing about me that was affected – and I need your help.” And when I saw the body-worn camera video, I was shocked by what I saw.”

The incident had taken place on April 7. “Derrick was on his way home to his girlfriend, and he was driving a Tesla Model Y with beta Autosteer,” Haltzman noted. “It’s a Tesla product that essentially controls the steering, and he admits he looked at his phone screen because a call came in – and when he did, the Autosteer corrected and it went over a levee. He got out of his vehicle and two bystanders were there to help him.”

Haferman and another FCPS officer responded to the incident and both had active cameras on the body. According to Haltzman, “the videos show a person with no signs of disability or intoxication. They told Derrick they were going to run tests to determine if he had a disability, and after he successfully completed a series of tests, they had a dialogue and he was told he was under arrest for drink driving even though we didn’t see anything that would lead anyone to believe he was disabled. The two bystanders at the scene were also interviewed and when asked if he smelled of alcohol or behaved strangely, they said, ‘No.’”

Here’s a body-worn CCTV video of Groves’ interaction with the police, which begins just after the 17-minute mark.
And this video contains the witness hearings:
Nevertheless, the report submitted by Haferman portrays the driver as clearly disabled. “I saw that Groves had bloodshot, glassy eyes and that his pupils appeared to be different sizes,” he wrote — and although “Groves denied having taken any drugs or alcohol before driving that night,” Haferman insists he admitted “it was use of marijuana 5-6 days earlier,” and when officers searched the drive, they found “several CO2 cartridges, balloons and receipts for THC products.”

According to Haltzman, the marijuana Haferman refers to was an edible product that Groves had consumed to help him sleep, and he had nothing illegal in his possession. Still, Haferman’s report claims that the driver “did not complete the eye portion of roadside maneuvers…as a sober person. Groves showed horizontal gaze nystagmus in both eyes and lack of convergence in both eyes.” Haferman noted that Groves was on probation for a previous DUI at the time of his crash.

The results of the blood test Groves got after he was taken to prison tell a very different story from Haferman’s. “It came back to zero,” Haltzman notes, “so the OM dismissed the case. But my client still had to have a blood test, he had to go to jail overnight and the case was filed and two months continued later. it was thrown away. You can imagine the stress and anxiety my client had as a result.”

Since then, Haltzman says he’s uncovered three other cases where drivers arrested by Haferman for drink-driving went on to pass blood tests — and one of them is represented by Sarah Schielke of The Life & Liberty Law Office, who, on behalf of her client, signed the Loveland- lawsuit, Harris Elias. And he also found the letter sent by the Larimer County District Attorney’s office regarding Haferman’s testimony in a DUI trial, which reads, “Fort Collins Police Officer Jason Haferman is on the list of witness in your pending case.The purpose of this notice is to inform you that during the Court’s ruling in a trial on March 3, 2022, in Division 5C of the Larimer County District Court, Agent Haferman ruled that Agent Haferman was not credible. was in his testimony regarding the contact and arrest of the accused in that case.”

The letter states: “The prosecutor has not concluded that this officer’s testimony was incredible, nor that any disclosure would be necessary based on his testimony alone, but since the judge has made negative findings regarding his credibility, the District Attorney provides this information under the broad mandates of… Brady v. Maryland,” a 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case for which Brady letters are named.

When westword gave Fort Collins police a summary of Haltzman’s concerns (in italics), FCPS PR manager Kate Kimble replied.

The rest of this sober person’s investigation was captured on body camera. There was no reasonable suspicion to conduct a DUI investigation, there is nothing to support the probable cause, and the officers’ written comments are irrefutably disputed by the body camera images.

An internal review will determine if the reports and video contradict. In general, in order to make a lawful arrest for drunk driving, officers must determine the probable cause based on indicators of impairment. The official breath or blood test is only performed after the arrest has been made. Because direct chemical results are not available when contacting drivers, officers must rely on their observations to determine whether a person is capable of safely operating a vehicle. This may include driving habits, physical indications of a disability and field sobriety tests (if the person chooses to perform them – these are voluntary). The officer must then use all of this information to decide whether an arrest is appropriate based on the aggregate of the circumstances.

Mr. Groves was forced to accept a needle being stuck in his arm to prove his innocence. Under the Colorado Express Consent Act, all licensed drivers in the state agree to take a breath or blood test if arrested for drunk driving. mr. Groves chose not to complete the blood test. The blood test results came back with nothing in his system. This was completely consistent with what was captured in body-camera footage and with what officers saw – total sobriety.

DUI blood tests are sent to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for analysis. CBI uses a standard ELISA panel to test for fourteen categories of drugs. While this can detect some common substances, it’s not all-inclusive. Aerosol inhalants, often abused by people trying to get high, are metabolized extremely quickly and may not show up on a DUI blood test. The illicit drug industry has also evolved to produce synthetic street drugs, many of which are undetected by the standard ELISA panel. It is not correct to equate a non-detection result with the lack of probable reason to make an arrest.

In her response, Kimble also provided a video about DUI investigations recorded by Chief Constable Jeff Swoboda:
While Haferman is not currently a DUI Enforcement Officer, Kimble confirms that he is “currently employed as a Police Officer with FCPS. He held the role of DUI Enforcement Officer from May 2020 – May 2022. This is a rotating position and he returned to patrolling the end of the assignment.”

“Our investigation is still ongoing,” Haltzman said. “But I don’t see why we shouldn’t file a claim.”

Click to read Officer Jason Haferman’s story on Derrick Groves’ arrest, the letter from the 18th District Court DA’s office letter on Haferman’s credibility, and Harris Elias v. City of Loveland, et al.

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