Thursday, February 6, 2003
Steamboat Springs Assault and ethnic intimidation charges have been filed against two Denver men who allegedly attacked an off-duty Steamboat Springs police officer and his girlfriend on Jan. 26. The police officer, who was placed on administrative leave after the incident, returned to work Sunday.
The Denver District Attorney's Office is charging Carlos Raymond Cordova, 23, and Edward Lee Lucero, 22, with first- and third-degree assault charges and two counts of ethnic intimidation.
Cordova and Lucero are suspected assailants in an early morning attack on Officer Damian Baynes and Renee Sanz in downtown Denver.
Baynes, who was not on duty at the time of the incident, shot one of the men in the arm when he and Sanz were attacked shortly after leaving a downtown nightclub.
Although Baynes was initially placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, which is not yet complete, he returned to work Sunday.
J.D. Hays, director of Steamboat Springs Public Safety Services, said he felt confident about allowing Baynes to return to work after he spoke with Denver police.
"I was told that, based on their investigation and the number of investigations like this ... it was their position at the time that this was going to turn out to be a justified shooting," he said.
But Hays is careful to leave the final verdict with the district attorney's office.
"They (Denver police) are not the ones that make the decision," he said.
The district attorney's report is not expected for several months.
"The shooting is still under investigation," said Lynn Kimbrough, communications director for the Denver District Attorney's Office. "There hasn't been a formal determination saying it (the shooting) was justified."
The first-degree assault charge stems from the attack on Sanz, who was treated for facial injuries after the incident and will require additional surgery to repair mouth injuries.
The third-degree assault charge applies to the attack on Baynes.
The alleged attackers hurled racial insults at the couple before assaulting them.
Baynes and Sanz were about 20 feet behind an unknown group of people when the group got into an alternation with a stopped car. The people in the car exited the blue Plymouth Neon and began yelling racial slurs at the couple. Kimbrough and Hays did not know the specific slurs involved in the incident.
Baynes was close enough to his car to remove a weapon from inside the vehicle and fire on his attackers.
The assailants took off after the shooting, but Cordova and Lucero were arrested at the hospital where they went for medical treatment.
Cordova and Lucero appear in Denver County Court at 9 a.m. Wednesday for a formal advisement from the judge.
Kimbrough would not speculate on a date when the district attorney's office would finish its investigation.
"The clock isn't ticking," she said.