Deputy fired in Columbine dispute

Jan. 10, 2002 at 11:15 AM
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DENVER, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- An Arapahoe County deputy sheriff was fired in a dispute over statements he made about what he saw on the day of the Columbine High School shooting.

Sheriff Pat Sullivan said deputy Jim Taylor lied when he told the family of one of the slain students he saw the 15-year-old boy shot and killed at Columbine. The family of Daniel Rohrbough still insists Taylor told them the truth about what he saw.

The Rohrbough family alleges a Denver police officer mistakenly shot their son, not shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. A lawsuit they filed with other families recently was dismissed and they are trying to get it reinstated.

Taylor was secretly recorded by Rohrbough's mother stating he was posted outside the school after the shooting began and he saw Daniel Rohrbough rush out of the school and then fall. After Taylor's statements were made public, the sheriff's office investigated.

Sullivan reported Taylor had told internal affairs investigators he never saw any weapons fired or any deceased victims at the school. He also said Taylor's statements to the Rohrbough family at other times also were false.

"I am extremely disappointed that false information regarding the tragedy of Columbine High School was provided to the families of the victims of Columbine by a member of my staff," the sheriff said in a statement Wednesday announcing Taylor's dismissal.

Taylor declined to comment on the action.

Rohrbough's family told the Denver Post they believe Taylor told them the truth in the tape-recorded conversation.

"There is no doubt in my mind that Jim Taylor was telling us the truth when he talked to us," Rich Petrone, the boy's stepfather, told the Post. "If you could have seen his face, there was no way he was lying."

The Rohrbough family believes Taylor's statement that he saw Daniel Rohrbough slump to the ground outside the school supports their argument the boy was hit by police gunfire.

Taylor's firing is the latest chapter in a continuing dispute over how police handled the April 20, 1999, shooting in which a teacher and 12 students were killed. Earlier this month. Gov. Bill Owens urged the district attorney to convene a grand jury to answer the lingering questions.

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