A gunman who led Denver Police on a high speed chase and shootout that would result in the gunman’s death and leave one officer with a bullet wound to the leg had been recently arrested and released three times under new “Sure and Swift” policies adopted by the Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC).
The incident comes amidst a significant push by the DOC to reduce recidivism via technical violations for parolees.
Geradino Gonzales was still on parole, Monday, February 22, when DPD officers were dispatched to a location in the Highlands neighborhood to a burglary in progress. Gonzales and another parolee, Alfonso Padilla, are believed to have fled the burglary, committed a carjacking, then led DPD officers on a chase along Lowell Blvd. Denver Police say gunfire was exchanged twice in the incident, with Officer Rachel Eid struck by a bullet once in the leg, and Gonzales fatally shot by police. Padilla was arrested and is awaiting trial in Denver.
According to a parole document obtained and authenticated by Complete Colorado (transcribed in full below), Geradino Gonzales was placed on intensive supervised parole in August of last year, and – perhaps most significantly – the document notes that Gonzales was an active member of a notoriously violent gang in Denver.*
The document states, in part, “Mr. Gonzales was sanctioned with Sure and Swift on three separate occasions and arrested and placed in the Douglas County Jail per House Bill 124; at the conclusion of Mr. Gonzales’s jail stay Epics was utilized. Mr. Gonzales’s most recent Sure and Swift was completed on February 12, 2016, at that time he completed a five-day Sure and Swift.”
“Sure and Swift” policies advocate arrests that incarcerate the parolee for a short period of time yet do not completely revoke the offender’s parole status. The arrests typically utilize municipal or county jails instead of state prisons. “EPICS,” is an acronym for “Effective Practices in Community Supervision” which is a theory of parole supervision that emphasizes behavioral changes through social learning, especially through one-on-one contact with the parole officer or supervisor.
In an email, the DOC emphasized that “Sure and Swift” are methods of “intermediate sanctions,” which are mandated by state statute.
“Sure and Swift sanctions do not consist only of 1-5 days in jail,” DOC spokeswoman Laurie Kilpatrick told Complete Colorado. “The jail stay is followed with Motivational Interviewing or an EPICS session with the offender to assist the offender in understanding how his/her thoughts and feelings led to the behavior.”
A “2014-2015 Regulatory Agenda” document from the DOC says that, “the purpose of the (Sure and Swift) program is to include the use of short term jail stays as an immediate sanction for certain violation behavior. Research indicates that when responses to parole violations are “sure and swift” they are more effective at impacting long term behavioral change.”
What prompted the three “Sure and Swift” arrests is not known at this time because the DOC has refused to release Gonzales’ chronological logs. Those logs document nearly all of the interactions the offender has with his/her parole officer, parole manager, and other persons in the department. (UPDATE on March 8: The DOC has confirmed the details behind the three “Sure and Swift” arrests, but has not released Gonzales’ chronological log. Per Laurie Kilpatrick, Gonzales did five days for a positive drug urinalysis, four days for a curfew violation, and three days for a missed appointment.)
In addition to not releasing Gonzales’ chronological logs, the DOC also withheld logs for Padilla, as well as for Jerimiah Halsey, a parolee accused of committing murder on February 21, and also for Luke Nathan Miller, a parole absconder who led Greeley and LaSalle police on a high speed chase in Evans on February 25. Miller was shot and killed by police after he reportedly jumped out of his vehicle and shouted “Shoot me, kill me!” before raising his weapon at officers.
An employee in the DOC’s legal services division said the Padilla, Halsey, and Miller logs would not be released, “on the grounds that release of information could compromise the integrity of an investigation or prosecution.”
The decision to withhold the logs stands in contrast to a decision earlier in the year to release heavily redacted logs for Calvin Johnson, a parolee accused of the New Year’s Day murder of Teodoro Leon III, a homeless man living in the area of 10th and Acoma in Denver.
Johnson’s case is unique because Alison Morgan, the department’s Deputy Director of Parole, held Johnson up to a meeting of the Joint Judiciary Committee in the General Assembly as a model of how well parole reforms were working. The Johnson chronological logs – originally obtained and reported by Complete Colorado – showed numerous red flags in Johnson’s behavior.
Additionally, Complete Colorado reported that Johnson was arrested for threatening his former victims, and later in his parole began living in a tent in an alley just two and three blocks from businesses he had harassed and seriously vandalized in 2005 which led to his incarceration with the DOC. An email by a parole supervisor noted that Johnson was planning on living in a tent just behind the Denver parole office at 10th and Broadway.
On November 10, 2015, the Assistant Director of Offender Programs Susan White emailed Parole Manager Melissa Gallardo, and said, “Mr. Johnson is supposedly moving to the alley behind Lincoln today which is not where we want him in regards to the victims,” (emphasis added).
The parole document that details the death of Gonzales points twice to policies implemented by SB 124 (introduced and passed in 2015). For example, the report concludes with the lines, “Despite Gonzales’s parole supervision and methodologies applied through House Bill 124, Gonzales is dead. No further information to report regarding Geradino Gonzales at this time.”
The opening to SB 124 states, “With certain exceptions, a community parole officer (parole officer) must exhaust all appropriate and available intermediate sanctions before filing a complaint to revoke a parolee’s parole for a technical violation of a condition of parole for which the underlying behavior is not a criminal offense.”
The DOC is also in the midst of a difficult push to reduce technical parole violators by roughly 20 percent.
A January, 2015 agenda document provided to the General Assembly’s Joint Budget Committee by DOC Executive Director Rick Raemeisch details the goal:
The Department of Corrections will reduce the percentage of technical parole violators (TPVs) from 32% to 25% by June 30, 2016, through a proactive approach using case management and intervention skills, which focus on successful outcomes for parolees. The Department will accomplish this by increasing the use of intermediate sanctions for parolees; implementing a parolee positive reinforcement program in conjunction with the Colorado Violation Decision Making Process; and implementing an in-jail Vivitrol program for TPVs, along with providing cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and medicated assisted therapy (MAT).
The deployment of “a proactive approach using case management and intervention skills” is exactly what Morgan was praising when describing Johnson’s situation to the Joint Judiciary Committee.
Complete Colorado has also documented potential problems with morale in the parole department over the past year and a half. Last June, the state employees union, “Colorado Wins,” sent out emails to hundreds of employees in the parole division, attempting to harvest dissatisfaction within the ranks.
“Morale among officers is low, pay isn’t competitive, case loads are up and so is micro-management from people who have never spent a day in your shoes,” the email claimed.
Additionally, the parole director hired closest to the aftermath of the killing of DOC Executive Director Tom Clements by a parolee in 2013 didn’t last one year on the job, resigning to take a 13 percent pay cut for a job in McHenry County, Illinois.
Transcript of parole document on Gonzales:
On February 22, 2016, at approximately 1:25 PM, in the city and County of Denver, State of Colorado, Geradino C. Gonzalez Jr. DOC #110834, and Alfonso Padilla DOC #153911, were contacted by Denver Police in connection with a string of burglaries perpetrated in North Denver. Denver Police were dispatched to a Burglary in Progress in the area of W. 37th Ave. and N. Grove St. Officers attempted contact with Padilla and Gonzales near that location; Gonzales fled the area on foot: Denver Police became involved in a foot chase with Geradino Gonzales resulting in an exchange of gunfire; Denver police officer Rachel Eid, was shot as a result of the shooting. Gonzales continued to flee; carjacking vehicle from the area of W. 32nd Ave. and Lowell Boulevard; Gonzales fled the area in the stolen vehicle: Denver police became involved in a car chase with Gonzales that ended when Gonzales crashed the stolen vehicle in the area of W. 35th Ave. and Lowell Boulevard. Gonzales then engaged Denver Police in a second exchange of gunfire, resulting in the fatal shooting of Gonzales by Denver Police. Alfonso Padilla was arrested for investigation of multiple burglaries by Denver Officers. Geradino Gonzales was an active [REDACTED] gang member, he possessed an extensive terminal history that began when he was a juvenile at age 12: his crimes consisted of burglary, 1st Degree Criminal Trespass. As an Adult, he was arrested for: Disturbing the Peace, Receiving Stolen Property, Criminal Impersonation, Fraud, Forgery, Motor Vehicle Theft, Second Degree Assault–SBI, Possession of a Weapon by a Previous Offender, Aggravated Robbery with intent to Kill, First Degree Assault, Resisting Arrest and Escape. Mr. Gonzales possessed a Very High Caras score of 161, and an LSI score of Tot 34, Rtr 15. Gonzales was placed on ISP-Parole on August 20, 2015; during his ISP-Parole he managed to commit numerous violations of his supervision to include, curfew violations, positive or failed drug and alcohol testing: missed office visits, he had been referred to Tasc for alcohol and drug screening and [REDACTED] therapy. Mr. Gonzales was sanctioned with Sure and Swift on three separate occasions and arrested and placed in the Douglas County Jail per House Bill 124; at the conclusion of Mr. Gonzales’s jail stay Epics was utilized. Mr. Gonzales’s most recent sure and swift was completed on February 12, 2016, at that time he completed a five-day Sure and Swift. Epics was utilized to provide Gonzales with tools that he could apply to his life, in hopes of deterring his criminal lifestyle. On February 22, 2016, Geradino Gonzales DOC #110834, succumbed to his criminal lifestyle in an attempt to murder Denver Police Officers. Denver Police Officer Rachel Eid, was shot as a result. Despite Gonzales’s parole supervision and methodologies applied through House Bill 124, Gonzales is dead. No further information to report regarding Geradino Gonzales at this time.
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*In order to reduce any potential publicity to the gang, Complete Colorado is withholding the name at this time.
*Correction: Based on early press releases from the Denver Police Department and Denver District Attorney, the first edition of this article incorrectly identified the victim of the alleged murder as Leon Teodora. The victim’s name is Teodoro Leon III.