Douglas County deputies depart amid excessive force complaint
Two Douglas County sheriff’s deputies left the department amid an internal affairs investigation into claims of excessive force.
The claims were raised by Reese Slade, an Elizabeth man convicted as a habitual offender for a 2010 case that involved officer gunfire.
Slade was shot in the head on Feb. 5, 2010, while he was using his vehicle to advance on an officer who was trying to arrest him. Slade, who was treated for his injuries and eventually faced trial, was found guilty Jan. 28 of assault, attempted assault and menacing charges for his actions during the incident.
In the days before his trial began, the sheriff’s office received notice that Slade claimed a backup officer used excessive force during the arrest.
The sheriff’s office immediately launched an internal affairs investigation into the allegations, leading to the departure of two of the office’s long-term deputies, said Undersheriff Tony Spurlock.
Detective Beth Ondrak reportedly lied to investigators and resigned on Dec. 5, 2012, before the conclusion of the internal investigation, Spurlock said. Ondrak had been with the sheriff’s office since 2006.
Deputy Gerritt Kaufman refused to cooperate with the investigation and on Dec. 17, 2012, was terminated from his position, Spurlock said. Kaufman was a K-9 officer who had been with the sheriff’s office since 2002.
“The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office doesn’t tolerate untruthfulness,” Spurlock said. “You are required to cooperate with an internal investigation. (Kaufman) chose not to do so and was terminated.”
Slade claimed an officer kicked him during the 2010 arrest. The internal affairs investigation disclosed Kaufman used his foot to gain control and hold Slade to the ground, Spurlock said.
The failure to report the incident at the time of the arrest was a violation of a Colorado law that requires report of excessive force within 10 days of the event, Spurlock said.
“We will not tolerate employees that lie or do not cooperate with an investigation,” he said. “We’re disappointed in our officers, they discredited the entire department. We pride ourselves on providing the best possible officers and service to the community and these two officers didn’t do that.”