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Mesa County Sheriff Candidate Sgt. Matt Lewis 4th Amendment Violation and Excessive Force Civil Suit Settlement!

In a recent interview by VetTheGov with Sgt. Matt Lewis was asked about Colorado Civil Case number 1:11-cv-02175-RM-MEH where he was personally sued for wrongful arrest by illegal means and using excessive force by surprising the victim with a taser shot to the neck and a hard takedown to the ground.  Sgt. Lewis told VetTheGov that he would do the same exact thing given the same circumstances and stood behind his decisions he made to arrest an innocent man on August 21, 2010. 

VetTheGov asked Sgt. Lewis if there was an internal affairs investigation performed regarding his actions and he was not sure but assumed so.  VetTheGov also asked Sgt. Lewis if a Constitutional violation like this occurred while he was Sheriff how would he respond internally and the question was never really answered as he stated again he would stand behind this event in similar circumstances.

Sgt. Matt Lewis also failed to disclose this incident in his recent Q & A # 5 to the republican party chair Lois Dunn and the vacancy selection committee after Steve King removed himself from the race.  In the law enforcement community this is a major violation and should have been noted in his response to the party questionnaire regarding anything else we hear about but has also decided not to release his internal affairs complaint file to the public.

VetTheGov will dissect the facts of the case that was deemed a 4th Amendment Violation by deputies on the scene by Judge Marcia Kreiger Chief US District Judge and then ordered to trial for the additional excessive force and wrongful arrest of the victim on March 19, 2013. 

In the rulings by Judge Kreiger she breaks down the days events as follows:

  • 911 call received by a neighbor for a possible domestic dispute between a couple at victims house
  • Deputies Joesph Crawford and Deputy Corben Telinde were the first to arrive at the victim's residence
  • Deputies escorted a crying female away from the residence and asked if any guns in the house and who the female was fighting with.  Upon multiple conflicting statements by the female of who the domestic partner was the deputies focused on the victim who seemed very distraught that the deputies were on his property.
  • Some verbal discussions were attempted with the victim but he was asking for deputies to leave his property and were not welcomed.  The victim was extremely agitated and emotional and told the deputies he did not have a gun.
  • Sgt. Matt Lewis and other deputies arrived on scene and Sgt. Lewis took command and positioned several deputies around the victims house with guns drawn.  
  • With very little knowledge if in fact the victim committed any crime the decision was made by Sgt. Lewis to arrest the victim all while being videotaped by a patrol car dash cam. 
  • Sgt. Lewis along with Deputy Telinde after approximately 30 minutes on scene approached the victims front door after he retreated inside and staged with Deputy Telinde drew his taser to the ready position. The decision for staging at the door was made by Lt. Wayne Weyler who is also a Brady Letter recipient. 
  • Sgt. Lewis told the court in deposition that Deputy Telinde was authorized to have his taser ready but Sgt. Lewis stated the decision to deploy was all Deputy Telinde's decision.  Deputy Telinde stated in his deposition that he was under the impression to deploy the taser if the victim gave him a clear shot. (Now this is where a true Leader and the on site Commander would stick up for the decisions made of his lower ranking Deputies standing side by side in this event but in this case and testimony Sgt. Lewis throws Deputy Telinde under the bus with his statements that Deputy Telinde acted alone).  Interesting to note that Sgt. Lewis never filed a report for his part in this arrest.  Sgt. Lewis stated in deposition it was at his discretion.  The confusion continues as depositions are taken and the stories begin to change and the inferences and lack of communication and judgement by a so called professional agency show the ugly sides of remembering the event that unfolded between the Defendants and the victim. Let's just say if this is how a professional law enforcement agency operates, then Mesa County citizens WE HAVE A PROBLEM!

Judge Kreiger pre-trial response to motions by both parties are as follows especially regarding the 4th Amendment violation:

  • Judge Kreiger points out immediately that the Defendants had different stories regarding probable cause to arrest.  Sgt. Lewis testified they were arresting the victim for "domestic assault" along with Deputy Andrew Means.  However Deputy Crawford testified he thought they were arresting victim for threats to shoot the defendants. Remember Deputy Crawford first Deputy on scene and first interviewed the battered intoxicated female yet understood the victim was not the suspect.
  • Here, the general contours of a person’s 4th Amendment right to be free from a warrantless arrest, unsupported by probable cause, is so axiomatic as to require no particular citation. See Olsen v. Layton Hills Mall, 312 F.3d 1304, 1312 (10th Cir. 2002). Under Mr. Brickey’s version of events, he made no threats against the Deputies (or anyone else), and the worst that can be said of him was that he shouted profanities at law enforcement officers from the porch of his home. In Stearns v. Clarkson, 615 F.3d 1278, 1283-84 (10th Cir, 2010), the 10th Circuit noted that “it [is] well-settled that profanity, especially toward police officers, does not” create probable cause to arrest a person even for disorderly conduct, much less any other offense. Thus, the Court finds that, taking the facts in the light most favorable to Mr. Brickey, the Defendants’ actions violated his clearly established 4th Amendment rights.
  • The Court further finds that the law clearly establishes that police officers cannot lawfully resort to deploying a taser to arrest a non-violent suspect without first giving any warnings to the suspect or attempting to obtain the suspect’s compliance via voluntary instructions. Casey, 509 F.3d at 1285-86.
  • As noted above, there is evidence in the record to indicate that the Defendants acted without probable cause in arresting Mr. Brickey, and arguably, there might even be evidence that the Defendants acted negligently in correctly assessing and adapting to the realities of the situation (i.e. by failing to obtain more information when inconsistencies appeared, or by failing to request Mr. Brickey to submit to voluntary arrest).

After Judge Kreiger approved the case forward to trial on March 19, 2013 for the excessive force and arrest without probable cause, within 2 months the entire case was settled and Dismissed with Prejudice Res Judicata and did not go to trial.  Since Mesa County was not named in the civil suit, Mesa County citizens, per the Mesa County Attorney's Office, were not responsible parties and therefore no Mesa County tax funds or insurance used in the settlement.  However one of the named Defendants Sgt. Matt Lewis now wants to be your Sheriff  which should alarm all of Mesa County!

Stay tuned as more information is attempted to be collected.  If you have any relevant information regarding this case please contact VetTheGov and your anonymity if requested will be protected please use the contact us section on VetTheGov or feel free to comment away.


UPDATE: CMU Security Audit performed by Senator Steve King from 2008 not on file

VetTheGov in a previous CORA request and story regarding American National Protective Services, a private company owned by still Senator Steve King, being contracted by Colorado Mesa University to perform a security audit of the campus.

With the many college and university shootings over the last several years you would think this audit would be a very important tool that would still be on file in proof of actually performing an audit and showing folks were trained as well just in case something happened on campus CMU would at least have some risk mitigation paperwork for the stakeholders/investors. VetTheGov asked three specific questions regarding the audit, if the original hiring agent is still active at CMU, and if this was PO was open to other bids, and the actual copy of the audit findings that were required by the end of the PO term. Here is the response:

This is in response to your correspondence of August 6, 2014 in which you requested to know whether Andrew Breckel is a current employee at CMU.  He is not.

You also requested a copy of the audit report required on the PO, if still available.  The audit report is no longer available.

You also asked whether CMU was required to seek competitive bids before issuing the purchase order.  No, State of Colorado Procurement Rules required a competitive bid only for services greater than $25,000.

Since there were no time sheets available for this PO and work required by CMU we can never know if and when he performed the audit, what recommendations were made, and who was ever trained. Just another example of special favors given and received with the local insider network. Remember it's not what you know but who you know and this proves it happens in small town politics and under the radar. Seems too familiar with Mesa County Sheriff's Office contracts that were unable to be located regarding employment for Senator Steve King. We can know one thing for sure record keeping all around is lacking within our local government and its officials.

Senate Rule 41

(b) Conflicts of interest - personal or private interests versus public interest - definition.

(1) Subject to article V, section 43, of the state constitution, a Senator has the right to vote upon all questions before the Senate and to participate in the business of the Senate and its committees, and, in so doing, is presumed to act in good faith and in the public interest. When a personal interest conflicts with the public interest and tends to affect the Senator's independence of judgment, legislative activities are subject to limitations. Where any such conflict exists, it disqualifies the Senator from voting upon any question and from attempting to influence any legislation to which it relates.

(2) A question arises as to whether a personal or private interest tends to affect a Senator's independence of judgment if the Senator:

(A) Has or acquires a substantial economic interest by reason of the Senator's personal situation, distinct from that held generally by members of the same occupation, profession, or business, in a measure proposed or pending before the General Assembly; or has a close relative or close economic associate with such an interest.

(B) Has or acquires a financial interest in an enterprise, direct or indirect, which enterprise or interest would be affected by proposed legislation differently from like enterprises.

(C) Has or acquires a close economic association with, or is a close relative of, a person who has a financial interest in an enterprise, direct or indirect, which enterprise or interest would be affected by proposed legislation differently from like enterprises.

(D) Has or acquires a close economic association with, or is a close relative of, a person who is a lobbyist or who employs or has employed a lobbyist to propose legislation or to influence proposed legislation on which the Senator has or may be expected to vote.

(E) Accepts a gift, loan, service, or economic opportunity of significant value from a person who would be affected by or who has an interest in an enterprise which would be affected by proposed legislation. This provision shall likewise apply where such gift, loan, service, or opportunity is accepted by a close relative of the Senator. It shall not normally apply in the following cases: A commercially reasonable loan made in the ordinary course of business by an institution authorized by the laws of this state to engage in the business of making loans; an occasional nonpecuniary gift, insignificant in value; a nonpecuniary award publicly presented by a nonprofit organization in recognition of public service; or payment of or reimbursement for actual and necessary expenditures for travel and subsistence for personal attendance at a convention or other meeting at which the Senator is scheduled to participate and for which attendance no reimbursement is made by the state of Colorado.

ARTICLE XXIX Ethics in Government

Section 1. Purposes and findings. (1) The people of the state of Colorado hereby find and declare that:

           (a) The conduct of public officers, members of the general assembly, local government officials, and government employees must hold the respect and confidence of the people;

           (b) They shall carry out their duties for the benefit of the people of the state;

           (c) They shall, therefore, avoid conduct that is in violation of their public trust or that creates a justifiable impression among members of the public that such trust is being violated;

           (d) Any effort to realize personal financial gain through public office other than compensation provided by law is a violation of that trust; and

           (e) To ensure propriety and to preserve public confidence, they must have the benefit of specific standards to guide their conduct, and of a penalty mechanism to enforce those standards.

           (2) The people of the state of Colorado also find and declare that there are certain costs associated with holding public office and that to ensure the integrity of the office, such costs of a reasonable and necessary nature should be born by the state or local government.

Section 6. Penalty 

Any public officer, member of the general assembly, local government official or government employee who breaches the public trust for private gain and any person or entity inducing such breach shall be liable to the state or local jurisdiction for double the amount of the financial equivalent of any benefits obtained by such actions. The manner of recovery and additional penalties may be provided by law. 

C.R.S. 24-18-104 (2013) Rules of conduct for all public officers, members of the general assembly, local government officials, and employees

(1) Proof beyond a reasonable doubt of commission of any act enumerated in this section is proof that the actor has breached his fiduciary duty and the public trust. A public officer, a member of the general assembly, a local government official, or an employee shall not:

(a) Disclose or use confidential information acquired in the course of his official duties in order to further substantially his personal financial interests; or

(b) Accept a gift of substantial value or a substantial economic benefit tantamount to a gift of substantial value:

(I) Which would tend improperly to influence a reasonable person in his position to depart from the faithful and impartial discharge of his public duties; or

(II) Which he knows or which a reasonable person in his position should know under the circumstances is primarily for the purpose of rewarding him for official action he has taken.

(2) An economic benefit tantamount to a gift of substantial value includes without limitation:

(a) A loan at a rate of interest substantially lower than the commercial rate then currently prevalent for similar loans and compensation received for private services rendered at a rate substantially exceeding the fair market value of such services; or

(b) The acceptance by a public officer, a member of the general assembly, a local government official, or an employee of goods or services for his or her own personal benefit offered by a person who is at the same time providing goods or services to the state or a local government under a contract or other means by which the person receives payment or other compensation from the state or local government, as applicable, for which the officer, member, official, or employee serves, unless the totality of the circumstances attendant to the acceptance of the goods or services indicates that the transaction is legitimate, the terms are fair to both parties, the transaction is supported by full and adequate consideration, and the officer, member, official, or employee does not receive any substantial benefit resulting from his or her official or governmental status that is unavailable to members of the public generally. 

24-18-201. Interests in contracts

(1) Members of the general assembly, public officers, local government officials, or employees shall not be interested in any contract made by them in their official capacity or by any body, agency, or board of which they are members or employees. A former employee may not, within six months following the termination of his employment, contract or be employed by an employer who contracts with a state agency or any local government involving matters with which he was directly involved during his employment. For purposes of this section, the term:

(a) "Be interested in" does not include holding a minority interest in a corporation.

(b) "Contract" does not include:

(I) Contracts awarded to the lowest responsible bidder based on competitive bidding procedures;

(II) Merchandise sold to the highest bidder at public auctions;

(III) Investments or deposits in financial institutions which are in the business of loaning or receiving moneys;

(IV) A contract with an interested party if, because of geographic restrictions, a local government could not otherwise reasonably afford itself of the subject of the contract. It shall be presumed that a local government could not otherwise reasonably afford itself of the subject of a contract if the additional cost to the local government is greater than ten percent of a contract with an interested party or if the contract is for services that must be performed within a limited time period and no other contractor can provide those services within that time period.

(V) A contract with respect to which any member of the general assembly, public officer, local government official, or employee has disclosed a personal interest and has not voted thereon or with respect to which any member of the governing body of a local government has voted thereon in accordance with section 24-18-109 (3) (b) or 31-4-404 (3), C.R.S. Any such disclosure shall be made: To the governing body, for local government officials and employees; in accordance with the rules of the house of representatives and the senate, for members of the general assembly; and to the secretary of state, for all others.

24-18-206. Penalty

A person who knowingly commits an act proscribed in this part 2 commits a class 1 misdemeanor and shall be punished as provided in section 18-1.3-501, C.R.S. In addition to the penalties provided in section 18-1.3-501, C.R.S., the court may impose a fine of no more than twice the amount of the benefit the person obtained or was attempting to obtain in violating a provision of this part 2.

2012 Colorado Ethics Committee Opinion regarding Conflict of Interest and Contracts 

Now the question to Senator Steve King is how many BILLS were influenced by your relationship with Mesa County Sheriff's Office and Colorado Mesa University. VetTheGov believes Senator King should have rescused himself from any vote that is perceived as a Conflict of Interest. It will be interesting to see if anyone at the DA's office or Senate leaders will put these together and prove to the People they are looking out for our best interest and not their own. Looking doubtful at the moment.