It takes a brave person to admit when they’ve done something wrong — to own up to their mistakes and their missteps and take responsibility for their actions. It takes bravery; a sense of honor and morality.
Particularly when you’re a police officer. And particularly when you just chased a car into someone’s garage, crashed your own patrol car behind it and then lost the suspect. That takes some serious accountability and a level of integrity to own up to, that’s hard for most people to muster.
Accountability and integrity that Denver’s Officer Nicholas Mauro clearly lacks. Mauro was recently fired from the Denver Police Department after grossly botching a car chase that ended in the suspect crashing into someone’s garage, with Mauro crashing his own car behind it, lying about the whole situation, manipulating the victim, and then trying to cover up the whole ordeal.
According to a disciplinary letter written after the event by Deputy Director of Denver Public Safety Mary Dulacki, “Officer Mauro said he started to panic and that he was scared because he knew the repercussions of what had happened.”
Here’s how it went down: It was a cloudy November day, when Officer Mauro noticed an SUV with a broken taillight get on I-70. Suspicious, Mauro pursued. However, he did not turn on his police lights — he just followed the car. The SUV began to speed up and so did Mauro, at one point reaching 99 mph. The vehicle exited on Havana Street.
Mauro called another officer, Aldo Salayandia, and asked for backup. He wanted Salayandia to get ahead and look out for the vehicle, as it flew down East 56th Ave. Both officers pursued the SUV until smashed into a residential garage on Loredo Street.
But when the officers approached the crashed vehicle, to their great surprise and disappointment, no-one was inside it. The suspect had escaped.
Mauro decided to reach into the SUV and turn it off, but instead, somehow threw it into reverse. The SUV lurched backwards crashing into Mauro’s patrol car.
It was at this point Mauro took full control of the situation, and started lying through his teeth to save his own skin.
The owner of the home, which had been crashed into, came outside. Mauro told her that she would have to file her own police report (even though police protocol required that he make a report of the incident); told the woman that the plates on the SUV were fake (they weren’t, he just didn’t want her to include them in her online report); then, he began to re-write what happened.
Mauro logged a false report claiming to have found the crashed SUV several blocks from the woman’s home, logged a request for the vehicle to be towed and mentioned absolutely nothing about the car chase. He then returned to the police station and tried to touch up the damage to his patrol car with white out, like he was covering up a spelling error.
(Yes, that kind of white out.)
He probably thought that his genius improvised cover-up, would never be found out. Even though there was another officer involved, and even though there was a confused woman with a damaged garage somewhere out there.
Well, it didn’t work. The woman, unable to file her report online called dispatch, explained what happened and then offered up a video recording of the whole event, which had been captured on her doorbell cam.
Unable to deny what the video footage illustrated (a gross cover-up and blatant police malpractice) the corporal who responded to her call, initiated an internal investigation into the incident. He found that Mauro had lied, manipulated evidence and tried to coverup mistakes that he was fully and totally responsible for.
For his part in the coverup, Aldo Salayandia will serve 22-day unpaid suspension.
“[Officer Mauro] so significantly violated the public trust that the only appropriate penalty for this rule violation is termination,” wrote Dulaki in her disciplinary letter.
It’s the right thing to do. It does send a message to other police officers who might be tempted to do something similar in Mauro’s shoes. Although, it’s hard to imagine a civilian getting away with something like this, without a ticket or jail-time.
Anyway, Mauro is going to lose his job. Which is good news for The People of Denver — we don’t need cops like that policing our city. We need honest, accountable, respectable and honorable police officers who are more interested in protecting us, than they are saving their own skin.
One can dream.