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More questioned DUI arrests surface in Fort Collins

No drugs or alcohol in the breath or blood link several DUI arrests made by a Fort Collins police officer

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (KDVR) — On the day Chuck Matta was arrested for DUI by Fort Collins Police Officer Jason Haferman, he had no idea the officer was already the focus of an internal affairs investigation for questioned DUI arrests.

Matta was arrested on May 14, two days before Haferman’s two-year rotation as the lead DUI officer for Fort Collins Police Service would come to an end.

“I thought this [arrest] just doesn’t make sense, but whatever he said, I didn’t argue with him,” Matta said.

Matta’s arrest would be at least the 12th DUI in a two-year period with no conviction, almost always because test results from a blood draw showed no alcohol or drugs in the suspect’s system.

Matta is the one person who was quickly exonerated when a breath test results showed all zeros for his blood alcohol content.

“The whole thing was, from my perspective, ridiculous,” said Matta, who admitted having two beers some three or so hours earlier in the night but said his roadside sobriety test should have made it clear he was sober.

“There was no common sense anywhere throughout. No matter what I told him or what I said, I didn’t impact him at all. He just kept moving forward with his process,” said Matta, who believed the reason he was pulled over was that he and his wife didn’t realize, in the dark, that they were driving with their trunk open.

Fort Collins officer investigated for DUI arrests

It turns out Fort Collins Police launched an internal affairs investigation on April 13, five days after the Problem Solvers made a records request for body camera video involving the Dec. 3, 2021, arrest of Harris Elias.

Elias had been arrested for a DUI, but blood results would later show there had been no alcohol or drugs in his system.

“It’s a level of corruption that I truly didn’t believe was possible,” is what Elias told the Problem Solvers in May before he even knew there were multiple arrests similar to his own.

The Problem Solvers first made a records request for the body camera video in the Elias case on April 8. On April 13, Fort Collins Police Services opened its internal affairs investigation. (Read more on the Harris Elias case here.)

A department spokeswoman insists the FOX31 records request did not spark the decision to open an internal affairs investigation, instead saying an internal review of the cases began in the officer’s chain of command prior to April.

Nine of the 10 DUI arrests where no alcohol or drugs were detected happened before 2022, at least four months before the FOX31 records request on April 8.

During a May 25 interview with the Problem Solvers, Fort Collins Police Chief Jeff Swoboda said, “Well, what I’m doing now is going back and looking at the entire case. We’ve started our own internal review.” But at the time, Swoboda implied he was only looking at the entire Elias case. He never mentioned there were numerous questionable DUIs connected to Officer Haferman.

It was only this month that the Problem Solvers learned there were at least 11 questioned DUIs that preceded the Chuck Matta arrest.

“That really bothered me. That’s the only reason I’m stepping forward. I support the police. I think most citizens do,” Matta said.

Officer still on the job as patrol

Unlike all the other cases, Matta was quickly exonerated by the breath analysis, but he said even a brief one-hour arrest is bad when it’s a wrongful arrest.

“It’s embarrassing standing on the side of the road having the police put your hands behind you, arrest you and go through the testing, ’cause the first thing a driver going by is thinking, ‘Oh, there’s a DWI, DUI,’ and it’s not the case,” Matta said.

On the body camera video, Haferman can be heard saying, “I apologize for wasting your time. I did it with the best intentions and within the law,” and he can also be heard asking Matta, “Would you like me to take you home?”

Matta declined, telling the Problem Solvers, “No, I figured it’d be a cold day in hell when I ride home with him because I didn’t feel it was done properly. I think he could have seen earlier in the testing program that I was not under the influence.”

While Haferman faces an internal affairs investigation, he has not been suspended. He is no longer the lead DUI officer for Fort Collins Police Services, but as a patrol officer, he can still make DUI arrests.

A spokeswoman for Fort Collins Police Services could not provide a timeline for when the internal affairs investigation will be complete.

Larimer County District Attorney Gordon McLaughlin has previously sent a letter to the Fort Collins Police Department expressing his concerns to the police department, writing Haferman’s conduct will have to “dramatically” improve if his office is going to prosecute DUI cases submitted by Haferman.

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