Jared Wright, the Republican Candidate for the Colorado House District 54 seat which is being vacated by Laura Bradford, challenged the assertions of his former boss, Fruita Police Chief Mark Angelo, in a news conference today at the Mesa County Republican headquarters.
The local newspaper in Grand Junction printed a July 26 story which asserted that Wright was the subject of an internal probe by his former employer, the Fruita Police Department. The article cited an email sent to a group of criminal defense attorneys in Mesa County, which read:
“Just a heads up–I received a letter from the Fruita police chief in regards to Jared Wright and the fact that the police department may have Brady material–DA not in possession at this point.”
The email continues, “He resigned July 13, 2012. Guess his political aspirations aren't likely to pan out either.”
“Brady Material” refers to the case, Brady vs. Maryland, which requires prosecutors to notify a defendant if a policeman involved in their case has a history of dishonesty or of hiding pertinent facts. The article in the newspaper used information which called into question Jared Wright's character and inferred that he had been dishonest in his capacity as a police officer.
The wording of the email implies that Fruita Police Chief, Mark Angelo, was putting attorneys, the local newspaper, the people of Mesa County, and the District Attorney, on alert that Jared Wright was a bad cop of dubious character.
A second article was printed in the Grand Junction newspaper on July 27, which reported that numerous pending cases in which Jared Wright is a witness were being challenged because of the purported internal probe, and the Brady issue. Earlier today, Jared Wright joined several supporters, his wife, one-year old daughter, and attorney, to address the attacks on his character which, he speculated, may be politically motivated.
Wright was introduced by his attorney and opened his remarks by saying “There are few things more important than honesty and transparency.” He went on to clarify that “There is not a Brady issue, and my integrity is intact.”
He recounted the fact that this “internal probe” started with one incident in which he was 17 minutes late for work. The Fruita Police Department, in an odd scrutiny of time keeping, also alleged that Wright could not account for 45 minutes of time during which he was clocked in, but was preparing for a court case. Jared Wright made an accounting of this time by describing the review and preparation he was doing prior to testifying in court. An accusation of “insubordination,” said Wright, was also found to be false.
Referring to Mark Angelo, Wright said, “This is a police chief scrounging for any reason to end my employment with the Fruita Police Department.” He went on to say that he resigned from the FPD on July 13th to focus his energies on his campaign for House District 54, and because he was “tired of the distractions of groundless, frivolous, politically-motivated allegations being made against me by the Fruita Police Department.”
Wright referred to his yearly performance evaluations during his years of service on the Fruita P.D. He said they have always been excellent, with his most recent performance evaluation noting that he had met or exceeded all expectations related to his duties as a cop.
Wright hit back at his former boss, Mike Angelo, describing his behavior and assertions of a “Brady issue,” as “outrageous, ridiculous–politically and personally motivated vindictiveness.” Wright and his attorney, Mike Holmes, speculated that the apparent smear-campaign coming from the Fruita Police Chief was politically motivated, since Wright has an excellent record as a police officer and the “internal problems” only began with his ascension to the Republican candidacy for House District 54.
Wright also admonished Mark Angelo for the financial cost to tax-payers that has been incurred by the alleged “internal probe,” and the possible denial of justice which could occur in pending cases in which he is a witness. It also appears that Angelo has not given Jared Wright due process in addressing the allegations against him. Angelo forced Wright to sign a waiver which effectively sealed his records to outside viewers, simply so Wright himself could view his own records from the Fruita P.D. The Fruita P.D., despite the allegations leaked to the media, will not release Wright's files until mid-August.
Wright and Holmes fielded questions after his remarks. One individual asked Wright if he had any plans to sue either the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, or the Fruita Police Department for possible violations of his rights. Jared Wright answered, “I am running for office to serve the people, not to sue them. I don't want to cost the people of Colorado any more money than this has already cost them.”
Jared Wright closed by acknowledging the support of his wife, Rachael, and thanking his supporters. He zinged his former boss with, “While Chief Mark Angelo is busy chasing fairies and trolls in his own office, we should demand that he focus his full time and efforts–at tax payer expense–to keeping the streets safe.”
Wright is highly popular among Republicans and Conservatives in Western Colorado. He won the the nomination to House District 54 with an overwhelming majority of the vote during the March caucus. It doesn't appear that the recent controversies stirred up by the media and his former boss have hurt his support base. Republicans and Conservatives tend to like a fighter, and it seems that is exactly what they have in Jared Wright.