Judge dismisses police suit challenging Denver coronavirus vaccine mandate

Judge dismisses police suit challenging Denver coronavirus vaccine mandate
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A judge on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit brought by police officers challenging Denver’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, concluding that the officers failed to follow protocol for opposing such a policy.

A group of seven Denver police officers sued the city last week, contending that it did not have the power to enforce the vaccine mandate under its local disaster emergency, which Mayor Michael Hancock declared at the onset of the pandemic.

Judge Shelley Gillman tossed the lawsuit, contending that the court does not have the authority to rule on the case because the plaintiffs did not go through all of their legal options within the city first, Randy Corporon, the attorney representing the police officers, confirmed to The Hill on Thursday.

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The city law, according to Gilman, is only relevant for state agencies. She said the officers should have first filed an appeal against the vaccine mandate to the health board before taking legal action, according to The Associated Press

The mandate, which Hancock announced last month, requires that all city employees and private-sector workers in high-risk settings be inoculated against the coronavirus by Thursday.

Corporon told The Hill that the officers are filing a petition with the Denver Board of Health on Friday, which was the option left open to them by the judge. He said Friday is the final day the plaintiffs are able to file a petition.

He also said more plaintiffs will be added to the case.

Lawyers representing the city said that of the seven officers who signed on to the lawsuit, four were exempted from the mandate and one was denied an exemption for writing a reason that was not accepted by the city.

The lawsuit contended that the city should have implemented the vaccine mandate by following a longer process that is written in state law, according to the AP.

The officers also argued that Gov. Jared PolisJared Schutz PolisBiden administration OKs Colorado expansion of transgender health coverage Judge dismisses police suit challenging Denver coronavirus vaccine mandate Bipartisan push for vocational training focuses on funding, curricula MORE (D-Colo.) had revoked Colorado's emergency order back in July.

Ninety-four percent of Denver city employees have abided by the vaccine mandate, according to the AP.

Andrea Webber, records administrator for Denver’s public safety department, revealed that as of Wednesday 12 officers were expected to hand in their resignations or retire from the police department — which is made of 1,500 officers — because of the vaccine requirement, according to the AP.

Corporon told The Hill that the plaintiffs are “still marching forward.”

“If we're unsuccessful at this level then we will be entitled to go back to court, and we will,” he added.

Updated 6:22 p.m.