DENVER — A Denver police officer received a 10-day suspension over his comments about a COVID-19 safety poster that was written in English and Spanish, according to a disciplinary letter.
Another officer who was hanging the sign reported that Denver police officer Matthew Graves said to her about the signs on May 8, “This is America, and we speak English here.”
Initially, the officer said she did not know others heard the comments, but the letter says three janitorial staff members came forward and asked her to file a complaint about Graves’ remarks.
According to the letter, the officer also claimed she heard Graves’ say, “something to the effect of, ‘If you don’t speak English either go home or back to Mexico.'”
When interviewed about the incident, the letter says Graves said he thought it was possible that he made the first comment, but not the later part, and that he meant it as a joke.
The letter says that some of the staff members who spoke up have been worried about how they would be perceived after making the complaint. One woman said “she is less confident at work because she fears people will be angry or upset with her for speaking Spanish,” according to the letter.
Graves said he was not aware of the janitorial staff and did not make the comments with the intent for them to hear.
According to the letter, Graves said the comments made by him do not reflect his feelings toward people who speak Spanish and he offered an apology to those he hurt.