Boulder Police

Special Counsel’s Independent Review of the April 5, 2019 Police Incident

Posted on 06/25/2019 at 10:03 pm
Shannon Aulabaugh

The City of Boulder retained Bob Troyer as Special Counsel to conduct a thorough and independent review of the Boulder Police Department's Supervisory Review of the April 5, 2019 contact between Boulder Police officers and Sammie Lawrence. The independent review was to determine whether the department followed procedures properly when deciding not to open an internal affairs investigation. Mr. Troyer has practiced law for over 28 years, 14 of those years as a federal prosecutor and over two years as the United States Attorney for the District of Colorado. Assisting Mr. Troyer were Michael Rankin and Robert Evans, both former FBI Special Agents and Assistant Special-Agents-in-Charge. Mr. Troyer was recommended by Siddhartha Rathod, an attorney for Zayd Atkinson.

The independent investigation in the April 5 incident concluded:

  • Officer Lolotai repeatedly asked Mr. Lawrence to put down the wooden staff, and he explained to Mr. Lawrence that he was welcome to video-record the encounter but would have to step back or put down the staff.
  • The body camera videos reveal that the officer had probable cause to arrest Mr. Lawrence and that the use of force was reasonable and appropriate.
  • An internal affairs investigation was unnecessary because the use of force complaint was unsubstantiated and did not support a reasonable belief that a policy had been violated.
  • The departments approach to screening misconduct complaints prior to opening a full internal affairs investigation is consistent with national best practices.
  • The Boulder Police Department made an objective and dispassionate review of the known facts before making a decision.
  • The report concluded by stating, “Accordingly, both Boulder Police Department’s (BPD's) supervisory review and its decision not to open a Professional Standards Unit (PSU) investigation into Mr. Lawrence's arrest on April 5, 2019 were proper.”

The entire report can be accessed online at https://bouldercolorado.gov/newsroom/special-counsels-independent-review-of-the-april-5-2019-police-incident-4