Colorado state trooper assigned to Capitol charged in on-duty gun incident

A Colorado State Patrol trooper tasked with protecting the Colorado Capitol and the governor faces a felony menacing charge for allegedly pointing his gun at a driver while crossing the street near the statehouse.

Trooper Jay Hemphill, 49, on Aug. 25 pointed a gun at a woman driving a car while crossing the street at the intersection of West 14th Avenue and Sherman Street, according to an arrest affidavit written by a Denver police detective. Hemphill pulled the gun out and yelled at the woman as he crossed the street in front of her truck, the affidavit states.

The woman reported the incident to police and told investigators that she feared he would shoot her.

Hemphill reported the incident to a State Patrol sergeant the same day. He agreed to an interview with Denver police investigators, but what he told them is redacted from the arrest affidavit provided by the Denver District Attorney’s Office.

Hemphill was on duty at the time of the incident, according to a news release from the State Patrol. He was not wearing a uniform.

Denver prosecutors on Friday filed the felony menacing charge against Hemphill. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to three years in prison. Hemphill was released on a personal recognizance bond, according to online court records.

State Patrol administration placed Hemphill on leave after learning of the allegations, according to a news release from the agency.

Hemphill joined the State Patrol in 1995 and has worked at the Capitol as a member of the executive security unit since 1998, according to the news release. The unit provides security to the Capitol, the governor’s mansion, and the governor and his family.

Hemphill in 2007 intercepted an armed man at the Capitol offices of then-Gov. Bill Ritter. Hemphill spoke to the man, who made threatening remarks, and walked him outside the governor’s office. Hemphill killed the man after he produced a firearm and said, “No police are going to stop me,” according to a description of events by the State Patrol.

The Denver district attorney at the time, Mitch Morrissey, found that Hemphill’s actions were legally justified. He was awarded the  Colorado State Patrol’s Medal of Valor for his actions.

Hemphill is the second State Patrol trooper to be charged with felony menacing this year. Wesley Dakan was fired from the agency in June after he was charged with felony menacing for allegedly pointing a rifle at a driver.

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