Police may launch investigation over detective's e-mail to Bruce

July 7, 2010

The Colorado Springs Police Department might launch an internal affairs investigation against a detective who sent City Hall critic Douglas Bruce a disparaging e-mail from work.

Detective Matthew Hulett, who works in the Financial Crimes Unit, admitted Wednesday that he sent Bruce a one-sentence e-mail on Friday asking, “Punch any reporters lately?”
But Hulett, a 10-year veteran, struggled to explain why.

“Yes, it was me, and basically it was just dumb. That’s about the best thing I could tell you,” he said.

“In fact, I tried to recall (the e-mail after sending it), but that was unsuccessful. You know, hindsight is 20/20,” he said.

The question posed by Hulett in his e-mail may be in reference to a 2008 incident in which Bruce, who was a state representative at the time, kicked a newspaper photographer during a prayer service at the state Capitol. Bruce was censured over the incident.

Bruce still insists it was a nudge and not a kick.

Police spokesman Sgt. Darrin Abbink said the e-mail from Hulett may warrant an investigation.

“At this point, I can’t comment on something that looks like it would be an internal investigation,” Abbink said.

“I think we probably need to contact Mr. Bruce and find out from him what happened and see if he has a complaint that he wants to file,” he added.

Bruce, who shared a copy of the e-mail with The Gazette, called it a case of “genuine” police misconduct. He said the city “can’t let police officers get away with insulting people using city e-mail” during work and that Hulett should be punished with at least a week off without pay.

“I’m too old to be shocked by governmental misconduct, but I think he ought to be exposed and punished,” Bruce said.

“What was he thinking? Was he drinking on the job?” said Bruce, who filed a complaint against Hulett on Wednesday.

“His effort at intimidation by insult will not succeed,” Bruce said in an e-mail to Deputy Police Chief Pete Carey. “What kind of political thugs are you hiring there, anyway?”

Bruce said he doesn’t know Hulett or why he sent the e-mail, but he has his suspicions.

“A police officer is abusing public property to attack a public figure just because I am an adversary of our corrupt and incompetent administration at City Hall,” said Bruce, who has been critical of City Council members and the Police Department, among others in city government.

Hulett said he had not yet notified his supervisor but planned to do so.

“My deepest apologies to everyone involved,” he said.

Call the writer at 476-1623

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