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JonBenet Ramsey detective among five Boulder police officers disciplined for failing to investigate cases

Internal Boulder Police Department audit found that cases had not been investigated or not investigated fully

Sheila Flynn
in Denver
Wednesday 07 December 2022 23:21 GMT
JonBenét Ramsey
JonBenét Ramsey (Sipa/Shutterstock)

A former lead detective on the JonBenét Ramsey murder case - and head of the Investigations Unit - has been reassigned to patrol by the Boulder Police Department after an internal audit revealed some cases had not been investigated between 2019 and this year.

Commander Thomas Trujillo “is no longer involved in any investigations, including the Jon Benet Ramsey case,” BPD spokesperson Sarah Huntley told The Independent.

The 36-year veteran of the department also received a three-day suspension without pay, and was placed on a Performance Improvement Plan, the department said in a Tuesday night release.

Action was taken against Mr Trujillo and four other officers after a case management system review ordered by Police Chief Maris Herold, who took over the department two years ago after building her law enforcement career in Cincinnati.

“While upgrading data and transitioning to a new open data portal, department officials became aware of cases assigned to a particular detective that had not been investigated or investigated fully between 2019 and the present,” the department release stated.

“Upon the discovery of this issue, in July 2022, the police chief immediately brought it to the attention of the Professional Standards Unit and the Independent Police Monitor, with allegations of several different rule/policy violations made against five officers: the detective and four others within his chain of command.

“A subsequent internal Professional Standards Unit investigation sustained the violations against all five officers.

“In August 2022, the PSU investigation was sent to the Office of the Independent Police Monitor and the Police Oversight Panel for review prior to the chief making a final disciplinary determination.”

In addition to disciplinary action taken against Trujillo, Commander Barry Hartkopp was given a one-year letter of reprimand and is receiving training; Sergeant David Spraggs retired by resignation; Sergeant Brannon Winn was suspended for one day without pay; and Officer Kwame Williams was suspended for five days without pay.

The Police Oversight Panel had recommended the termination of all five officers, according to the release.

Trujillo, listed on the BPD site as head of the Investigations Unit, Coordinator for the Boulder County Investigation Team, and a member of the Boulder Incident Management Team, is also a long-time investigator into the murder of JonBenét Ramsey, who was found dead in her family home a day after Christmas in 1996.

When the six-year-old’s parents, John and Patsy, eventually agreed to a police interview in April 1997, Trujillo was one of the detectives to question them.

The department announced last month that the case was being reinvestigated in collaboration with the state cold case team.

BPD spokesperson Huntley told The Independent she could not yet detail how many nor which types of cases had not been investigated.

The Boulder County District Attorney’s Office is conducting an internal audit into the cases, according to the BPD release.

“I regret that this happened and consider it a serious situation,” Chief Herold said in the statement. “We had an employee who apparently became overwhelmed. He has since been reassigned from the Investigations Unit.”

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