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Why a stuffed rat got a Denver firefighter suspended for 51 days

Disciplinary documents obtained by 9NEWS reveal firefighter Aaron McNally was suspended for using a stuffed rat to intimidate another firefighter.

DENVER — In what could be one of the most unusual discipline cases ever among city employees, a Denver firefighter received substantial discipline over a stuffed rat placed near the sleeping quarters of another firefighter.

The incident prompted an investigation by police and a review by prosecutors for witness intimidation.

Firefighter Aaron McNally was notified in late April about his suspension for 408 hours, or 51 working days, for breaking code of conduct rules at Fire Station 5 in Glendale after a stuffed rat was discovered by another employee Nov. 29.

McNally was accused of using the rat to intimidate another firefighter, who was expected to testify in a separate discipline case involving a former captain at the fire station. The captain was demoted and appealing his case.

That firefighter, named as “JB” in discipline documents, declined to testify in the appeal hearing after the stuffed rat was discovered near his sleeping quarters.

JB became “concerned for his and his family’s safety” and “repercussions on his career,” discipline documents say.

JB felt that the “rat was intentionally placed to imply JB was a ‘rat' for testifying.”

Credit: City of Denver

“By intimidating JB, a witness in a disciplinary hearing, which resulted in JB’s refusal to testify, Firefighter McNally substantially interfered with the DFD’s [Denver Fire Department's] professional image,” wrote Mary Dulacki, chief deputy executive director of the Denver Department of Safety.

McNally admitted to placing the rat at the fire station; however, records indicate that Department of Safety officials were not satisfied with his level of remorse.

“Firefighter McNally spoke mostly about his feelings and the impact this incident has had on him, and he failed to adequately address the consequences of his misconduct,” Dulacki wrote. “When one of its members commits egregious misconduct that brings such disrepute to the Department, a substantial penalty is warranted.”

The discipline documents reveal the case was also reviewed by the Glendale Police Department and the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, however the district attorney declined to file charges for witness intimidation. 

Below: Denver Department of Safety disciplinary order for firefighter Aaron McNally:

If you have any information about this story or another news tip, you can contact jeremy@9news.com

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