A Denver sheriff’s deputy was fired in June after he got into a drunken fight with his girlfriend and then repeatedly lied to investigators about what happened, according to a disciplinary letter obtained by the Denver Post Monday.
Deputy Michael Liebner was fired because his “actions demonstrate a lack of integrity, ethics and character that render him unfit to hold the position of a Denver deputy sheriff,” according to the June 22 letter from Deputy Director of Safety Mary Dulacki.
Liebner was off-duty when he got into the fight with his girlfriend on Sept. 14 after coming home from a concert where he’d been drinking heavily. A neighbor called 911 to report the disturbance at the couple’s Highlands Ranch apartment.
When Douglas County sheriff’s deputies arrived, they found Liebner’s girlfriend bleeding from a cut to her head, blood splattered throughout the apartment, a broken television and a front door that appeared to have been damaged when someone tried to kick it in. A toolbox had been overturned and a vacuum cleaner dismantled.
Liebner and his girlfriend told investigators various and differing accounts of what happened, with both initially denying the fight went beyond an argument. Liebner, who had blood on him and cuts on his knuckles when deputies arrived, claimed he was injured in an on-duty use-of-force incident that he’d failed to report. His girlfriend, who tried to hide her cuts under a towel, told police she wasn’t sure how she’d been hurt, before saying she must have fallen and hit her head on furniture during an altercation with Liebner.
Liebner was arrested that night and charged with misdemeanor domestic violence menacing. The charge was dismissed in December.
During the later internal affairs investigation, Liebner wrote in a statement that he regretted his actions that night, and that he recognized he had a drinking problem, which he blamed on stress from a custody dispute and divorce. His attorney denied that Liebner became physically violent with his girlfriend, but said he lost control of his emotions.
Liebner, who joined the sheriff department in 2015, had no history of disciplinary actions against him. Dulacki found that lack of past discipline did not lessen the severity of his actions.
“The egregiousness of Deputy Liebner’s deceptive and misleading conduct…outweighs the mitigating circumstances presented,” she wrote in the letter.
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