Skip to Content

Woodland Park fires police commander, sergeant for failure to help suicidal veteran

WOODLAND PARK, Colo. (KRDO) -- The City of Woodland Park has fired a long-time police commander and a sergeant for their failure to help a 29-year-old suicidal veteran in December 2020.

Commander Andy Leibbrand and Sgt. Mike McDaniel were both officially terminated on Tuesday after a third-party investigation found they neglected their duty in how they handled a welfare check for 29-year-old Jeremy Mitchell.

A third-party investigation by Municipal Police Consultants concluded that there were 11 different resources or actions Commander Leibbrand and Sgt. McDaniel failed to use to attempt to get Jeremy mental health help the night before he died. The investigation also found the pair violated several police department policies in Jeremy's case.

The terminations of the high-ranking Woodland Park police officers come after 13 Investigates discovered those officers failed to call mental health resources like they typically do and police department leadership allegedly concealed the records telling the full story from Jeremy's family.

Jeremy died by suicide and was found by his wife on the morning of Christmas Eve 2020.

The Woodland Park Police Department received at least 17 calls for help preceding the death of the 29-year-old veteran

Woodland Park Interim Police Chief recommended termination of Commander Leibbrand and Sgt. McDaniel on October 28. After reviewing appeals, Hasler fired both on November 8.

"I have determined that the policy violations were egregious and warrant termination," Chief Hasler wrote in letters to Leibbrand and McDaniel.

Leibrrand and McDaniel appealed the recommended firings in letters to Chief Hasler. Read Leibbrand's letter at this link; you can read McDaniel's response letter at this link.

A criminal investigation into Woodland Park Police is still ongoing by the Teller County Sheriff's Office and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. The lead investigator from TCSO tells 13 Investigates that the probe should be completed within the coming days. Commander Ryan Holzworth is still on administrative leave pending the investigation.

Chelsea Brentzel

Chelsea is an investigative reporter for KRDO NewsChannel 13. Learn more about Chelsea here.

Comments

23 Comments

  1. How much did this cost so far as of Tuesday November 9, 2021. How much total, paid admin leave for each commander. That way we can know when TCSO finishes their investigation.

    1. Is WPPD pursuing criminal charges now? How does the public get reimbursed for paying for their salaries while on leave and now found liable?

  2. Dam’d if they do, dam’d if they don’t…..if they would have busted down the door and got in a shootout with the guy the public would be in all an uproar about that. If family called 17 times, why didn’t family help him. So the people that knew him best couldn’t help him but it’s expected a couple armed cops are going to have a better outcome? Sad yes, but at least this way he was the only one who died.

    1. Damn’d if they do follow their own policies, damn’d if they don’t follow their policies? You lost me past this statement Farnam. Come on man.

    2. The guys wife asked them to leave when they responded to the house. So they left and look whats happening now. She is apart of the lawsuit against them.
      The officers responded and acted in good faith. The wife asked them to leave so they did. I feel they did their job.

  3. The Supreme Court has ruled, in Gonzales v. Castlerock, that police do not have a const.itutional duty to protect a person from harm, including oneself.

    1. That decision applied specifically to restraining orders, and that the police were not responsible for enforcing them.

      1. Thank you for proving my point. If the police aren’t responsible for enforcing the restraining order, then they are not responsible for the outcome of not enforcing that restraining order.

        There is another case that is similar, DeShaney v. Winnebago County

        1. Except you missed the point that there was no restraining order in this case.
          .
          And your second reference concerns a child and a custodial parent, another very different kettle of fish, concerning rights under the 14th amendment.

    2. This has nothing to do with the court, it is about WP firing two men because the people paying their salaries felt they were doing a poor job. It’s just a shame it took 9 months of paying them to sit at home before they could do it.

      1. He’s attempting to display his legal “smartness”, and in the process he’s displaying more of his ignorance.

        1. Regardless of what you think you know, these officer’s were fired despite the case law that is already in place. There’s Gonzales v. Castlerock, DeShaney v. Winnebago County, and Warren v. District of Columbia. Police are not obligated to protect anyone that is not in custody.

          Thanks for playing Reality, you’re always there for a good laugh.

          1. Thank you for playing lawyer. Unfortunately, your understanding of the relevance of legal precedents in different cases is sadly lacking. You’ll need more than a fake ID to be admitted to the state bar.

  4. Here is a fun fact in the reports. The officers came to the house and his wife asked them to leave. So his wife told them to leave and not to do anything. If they were so worried then why didn’t the wife ask the officers for help and allow them to do their job? Nope she told them to leave. She said it wouldn’t be a good thing and it would make things worse. So they left….. Technically if they were asked to leave by one of the property owners the only way they could go in is if they had a warrant or a ton of probable cause that there was eminent danger. BUT again his wife asked them to leave.

    1. The wife asked them not to escalate by talking to her husband or entering the home. This in no way means their only choice was to completely leave the area and not return or check back in any way. The wife had no way of knowing what the standard procedure was, the officers could have explained to her that they were setting up a perimeter (fancy for having an officer or two hang out at a distance) and calling mental health professionals to help. But apparently the officers weren’t interested in pursuing different avenues of care, from their appeal letters they seem to have been irritated at the wife and not interested in making any effort to address the concerns of, for example, the Texas friend who was in law enforcement himself and called to ask them to help. The biggest red flag here, though, is that they knew there was a man who was intoxicated, in a mental health crisis, and armed in a residential area and they just left and never checked back. That is not just neglecting a duty to serve the man in crisis, that is leaving the neighborhood at potential risk. There’s not obligation for WP to keep them on the payroll.

      1. OK so lets say they did confront him. Being intoxicated and armed he starts shooting at the police. Hits a bystander and a officer and then turns the gun on himself. Would that be the outcome you want them to go for? or Listen to the wife who basically said leave him be and he can sleep it off….. but that didn’t happen either.
        Weather a “officer” or a “mental health professional” the scenario is the same. Do you think he would of listened to a counselor? He was known to be violent. He was armed. He was intoxicated. He would not of received anyone very well in the mind state. I know. I dealt with this when I was a medic. More than I wanted to, one of the reasons I changed careers. Many time we were call to a scene and if the man was armed we drove a block away and waited for the police to secure the scene. Many times the let him sleep it off and we will come in the morning worked wonders. ESPECIALLY if there was a responsible adult there who said they were watching him and it was best for them. She asked them to do nothing and leave. Again he was a trained soldier, intoxicated, and armed. Was it conveyed to the boots on the ground he was a severe threat and high chance of doing something stupid to himself? The wife didn’t think he was a threat to her….. That is the gray area.
        I bet if he was not a soldier this story would of never been published.

        1. No, my point is that they didn’t have to choose between confronting him and leaving and never returning or checking. It certainly makes sense to de-escalate, we’re not arguing escalation vs. de-escalation; we’re saying that just because the wife asks you to de-escalate that doesn’t mean you clock out for the night.

          In your time as a medic, were you ever in a situation where law and safety officers simply left an armed man in mental health crisis and never checked back? But that doesn’t mean they stormed the house every time, right? Yeah, that can make for a long night with a lot of people standing around, and sometimes the guy kills himself anyway. But you don’t just throw in the towel, not morally and not procedurally.

          You can’t fix everything. You can’t prevent all suicides or all crimes. But what’s the point of having law enforcement and social services if they simple walk away any time the situation is complex? The officer who came the next day after the wife found the body thought the situation was very badly handled, as did the coroner, this isn’t just Monday morning quarterbacking from people who don’t know anything about these situations.

        2. Yes, the story was published in part because he was a combat vet. Our nation has an obligation to those who have been harmed defending our country, and it seems very likely that the suicide was connected with his service. The same would be true if he had been a medic or a police officer in that situation due to PTSD from something experienced on the job. The people that the medic or officer served would have a higher level of duty to that person, and if our community let him down it would be a greater wrong.

        3. We can all play the “what if” game, and there is very often no single correct answer. So hopefully we all use our experience and expertise to do what seems best at the time. But we’re not always successful, just like doctors and medics sometimes lose patients, and CPR doesn’t always work.

  5. These guys are taking the fall. If the cops were going to remain on scene then the wife would claim they escalated and created tensions which caused her husband to kill himself. There is so much gray area and people playing armchair quarterback weeks later to judge the cop’s decisions. If someone is going to kill themselves, in most cases, they will likely do it regardless of “help”.

Comments are closed.

Skip to content