Denver police officer accused of stealing cash from suspect after body camera reveals missing money
A veteran Denver Police Department officer has been arrested after he recorded himself with his body camera as he allegedly stole $1,200 from a suspect during a shooting investigation.
Julian Archuleta, 48, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of felony tampering with physical evidence and misdemeanors of first-degree official misconduct and theft, according to his arrest affidavit. Archuleta was booked into the Downtown Detention Center and suspended without pay, pending the investigation, the Denver Police Department said in a news release.
The police department said Archuleta’s alleged actions blew a criminal investigation into a shooting, and a suspect was never charged because of it.
Archuleta has worked as a Denver cop since 2004 and was assigned as a patrol officer in District 1, which covers the northwest part of the city.
His arrest is the first time a Denver police body camera has led to a criminal charge against an officer.
Denver police officers began wearing body cameras earlier this year. The police department said the cameras would help with criminal investigations, while the public has wanted the cameras to monitor police conduct.
On Oct. 7, Archuleta responded to a car crash that happened after other officers had pursued a suspect in a shooting. Archuleta’s body camera recorded 24 minutes and 40 seconds of footage as he took pictures of the scene and searched the suspect’s clothing after it was removed by paramedics, the arrest affidavit said.
In the footage, Archuleta discovers a stack of cash with a $100 bill on top, the affidavit said. He is seen separating the $100 bill from the stack, and a $1 bill remains on top.
Throughout the footage, Archuleta shuffles money and rearranges paperwork in his patrol car, the affidavit said.
When a detective collected the cash and logged it into the property bureau as evidence, he counted $118 and did not find any $100 bills, the affidavit said. But while reviewing Archuleta’s body camera footage as part of the investigation, the detective noticed the $100 bill.
The detective reported his discovery to the internal affairs bureau. When confronted, Archuleta called a detective and said he would “check his war bag” and would look to see if the money had slipped into a crevice in his car, the affidavit said.
An hour later, Archuleta called the detective and said he found 12 $100 bills that “must have fallen in his bag,” the affidavit said. He turned over the money on Oct. 10, the same day he was notified of the internal investigation.
The Denver district attorney’s office declined to prosecute the shooting suspect because of the missing cash and because Archuleta allegedly moved evidence inside the suspect’s vehicle before detectives had a search warrant, the affidavit said.
Archuleta’s arrest is the second time this month that Denver police have charged one of their own.
Last week, Denver officer Anselmo (Sal) Jaramillo was charged with two misdemeanor accounts of prohibited use of weapons after he placed a handgun on a desk at police department headquarters and pointed the barrel toward a colleague, according to a copy of his summons.