,By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
"I have nightmares," explains Tom Mills in a phone interview less than two months after Brett Carbone, the Denver Deputy Sheriff who threatened Mills at gunpoint, was sentenced to community service and probation.
It has been almost a year since Mills knocked on Carbone's Commerce City door to serve papers for an overdue bill of less than $200. The incident, however, left Mills' limbic system, the neuro networks that control emotion, mood and instinct, in a suspended flight/fight state. The ramifications are taking their toll on his business and on his health.
Mills continues to work. His day to day functions, however, are not what they used to be. He can't do a lot of night serves. "This is a job I used to love," he explains to me. "I used to love doing this work. I was sought after by clients because I was good at it." Post-traumatic stress disorder, he and the medical professional treating him, believe, changed everything.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, "People with PTSD have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended."
Mills is suffering from something that has a diagnosis for which there is medication and talk therapy. The recovery process, however, requires time, money and support.
Mills is still unable to do most night serves and his business has taken a hit financially as a result. "I have nightmares," he tells me. "I keep thinking over and over 'what could I have done'?" He adds that Carbone was a trained police officer yet he still wonders what he could have done to take the gun away. What could he have done?
Mills feels the court handled Carbone's criminal case fairly since rehabilitation includes probation, community service, anger management seminars and court fees. "I was okay with that" he responds when I directly ask whether or not he thinks it was a fair sentence adding, "I think that's fair with what he did," and acknowledges Carbone "will always be a bully."
Carbone did apologize to Mills. Unfortunately, Mills has no way of knowing whether or not the apology was sincere, however. "When he did this to me, he lied to the police when they got there," he recalls and then spirals into darker associations.
"Imagine what happens in jail," Mills says, referring to Carbone's former Sheriff Deputy job. "What has he done to inmates? What has he done to other people?" Mills wonders before reflecting back to the event and his surprise discovery. It wasn't until after Mills got away from Carbone, returned to his car called the police that he learned Carbone was actually an off-duty sheriff's deputy. And Carbone withheld that information until the Adam's county police forcibly disarmed Carbone who initially tried to deny he had threatened Mills with a firearm. The video evidence, however, was already documented on a smart phone. "I had no idea he was a cop!" Mills exclaims again, as though uncovering this reveal for the first time.
Being a process server is a tough job and it takes tough person to do the job. But Mills, who also happens to be a retired Marine, used to enjoy the job's risks as well as its rewards. Ultimately, "I lost something I really loved doing," he concludes. "Process serving was one of my big passions."
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