Denver Police Officer Matthew Graves has been suspended for 10 days without pay for making racist comments about Spanish speakers in front of co-workers. In an October 27th letter justifying the suspension, Deputy Director of Safety Mary Dulacki described Graves' comments as "perjorative, disparaging and, therefore, derogatory" and said that they "were based upon actual or perceived national origin, were discriminatory and were in violation of the Department of Safety (Equal Employment Opportunity) Policy."
The comments allegedly made by Graves included:
- "This is America, and we speak English here."
- "If you don't speak English either go home or back to Mexico."
Graves said that his comments were meant as a joke. The officer that reported him said that she wasn't sure he really said what she thought she heard until three Spanish speaking janitors came up to her and said something about it. One of the people that heard his comments said that she is now less confident at work because she fears that people will be mad at her for speaking Spanish. Graves claims that he was not aware that there were three Spanish speaking people within auditory range of him at the time.
Officer Graves made the news last year for surviving a hit and run accident. In that case he was described as a technician and not an officer. We do not know if the driver was Spanish speaking or what impact if any that has on his suspension. You can learn about that incident in the video below.