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Entries in Sgt. Matt Lewis (5)

Tuesday
Sep232014

Sgt. Matt Lewis 4th Amendment Update-Mesa County pays over $71K in Attorney's fees

VetTheGov finally received back its CORA request regarding specific documentation of the previous questions asked regarding Sgt. Matt Lewis response to a local reporter on the 4th Amendment Civil Lawsuit.

VetTheGov has been told by Mesa County officials that no Confidentiality agreement is on file or been completed by Mesa County on Sgt. Lewis' behalf. See Letter. This would mean that Sgt. Lewis misrepresented in his interview comment.  

VetTheGov was told by Mesa County officials that no Settlement amount was paid by the County. This would mean another misrepresented comment by Sgt. Matt Lewis and the fact that he could be in violation of the "unable to locate" Mesa County Confidentiality Agreement he mentioned in his interview.

Ironically Mesa County taxpayers did cover the involved deputies attorney bills paid to Alan Hassler in the amount of $71,297.32.  

So the question becomes WHO PAID THE SETTLEMENT? Sgt. Matt Lewis has publicly stated the County paid and the County is continuing to say they didn't. Surely since the deputies didn't pay for attorney's fees then they didn't pay the Settlement out of their own pockets either. If an Insurance Company for Mesa County paid the Settlement, then wouldn't that still be considered Public Knowledge since the Taxpayers pay these premiums as well?

Surely if an Insurance Payout happened then Mesa County taxpayers can rest assured these Premiums have been raised. Stay Tuned as the Mesa County Sheriff's Office Settlement roller coaster is just beginning with the big turns and upside down flips! 

Monday
Sep222014

VetTheGov Rescinding Comment and Public Apology regarding Wayne Weyler

VetTheGov in a previous story mentioned in a brief sentence regarding then Lt. Wayne Weyler had a Brady letter.  VetTheGov received this information from Christopher Durham who received the information from a supposed reliable source Chris Franz, former professional standards deputy from Mesa County.  After receiving some comments on VetTheGov a call was made to once again confirm the information as fact.  The conversation suddenly became a statement that it was apparently miscommunication from the so called 100% reliable source. 

VetTheGov prides itself on relaying factual information and now after receiving confirmation from not only a CORA request to Mesa County but also an email confirmation from the Mesa County District Attorney's Office, VetTheGov publicly rescinds the comment regarding a Brady letter in Wayne Weyler's personnel file and makes a public apology to Wayne Weyler.  Wayne Weyler had no Brady letters on file nor has the DA's Office ever seen a Brady letter come across their desk related to Wayne Weyler.

VetTheGov is also publicly announcing it endorses No candidate for Mesa County Sheriff and is not actively involved or participating in any candidates campaign! 

VetTheGov will continue to strive for local government transparency especially regarding the 4th Amendment violation written about in earlier stories.  This behavior must be stopped and rights of individual human beings should never be violated even in the worse of circumstances.

Sunday
Sep212014

Someone Lying in Mesa County Government over 4th Amendment Settlement.

Mesa County citizens it is becoming increasingly troubling when your supposed transparent county government can't and won't keep itself accountable.  Since the VetTheGov story hit regarding Mesa County Sheriff candidate Sgt. Matt Lewis and the settlement of a 4th Amendment violation, illegal arrest, and excessive force civil lawsuit, fingers are pointing and the cover up continues with one or both parties LYING.

On August 14th, 2014 VetTheGov requested via CORA the settlement amount regarding Travis Brickey civil lawsuit settlement with Mesa County via its contracted attorney Alan Hassler regarding Case # 11-cv-2175.  On August 18th, 2014 a letter in response to the CORA request by Mesa County Asst. Attorney Angela Barnes stated that there are no documents responsive to the request and that Mesa County was not a party to the case even though five Mesa County deputies were named in the suit and a contracted county attorney represented the Mesa County deputies on the case.  On face value there is already a conflict of interest if Mesa County was not named in the suit and the deputies used a Mesa County contracted attorney.  See Colorado Bar Rule 1.7.

Since the CORA  request, Sgt. Matt Lewis responded to the media regarding the civil case in which he stated he was bound by a confidentiality letter placed on his behalf by Mesa County and that the County decided to settle an undisclosed amount to Travis Brickey.  It was also learned that the attorney for Travis Brickey confirmed Mesa County in fact did settle and could not disclose the amount.  After Sgt. Matt Lewis confidentiality agreement BREACH of discussing the case with local reporter Jesse Nelson representing West Slope Watchdog, VetTheGov initiated another CORA request on September 8th, 2014 to Mesa County Asst. Attorney Angela Barnes in which all County Commissioners were copied and included the audio interview with Sgt. Lewis and requested the following:

  • The Settlement amount?
  • If the County indeed filed a Confidentiality Agreement on behalf of Sgt. Matt Lewis
  • If Mesa County hired Alan Hassler for the named defendants and if not wouldn't this hiring be a conflict of interest?
  • If Alan Hassler was hired by the County, what was the County billed for his services?

VetTheGov received a letter dated September 8th, 2014 that reads as follows and VetTheGov must add NO RESPONSE from any elected County Commissioner Steve Acquafresca, Rose Pugliese, or John Justman:

"The Colorado Open Records Act (C.R.S. 24-72-200.1, et seq.) governs how governmental agencies in Colorado are to comply with citizen request for information.  The "CORA" contemplates, and only contemplates, records.  it is a detailed act governing record release circumstances.  If you are seeking records, your email letter does not set forth those that you are seeking."

What gets interesting is that an attached document to the letter shows an email from Commissioner Steve Acquafresca on September 8th, 2014 referring to an earlier conversation with Tom Fisher Mesa County Administrator that states:

"Tom - this is exactly what we were talking about this morning.  Please assist Angela with her response. SA"

The County Commissioners cannot play dumb now since that Commissioner Aquafresca copied in the other two Commissioners in his email to Tom.  They are all privy to the issue and let's see who will rise above partisan politics in order to demand complete transparency with OUR government.  If the Commissioners play safe then we must demand a complete investigation into our entire local government and then it's time for them all to go!

The dilemma now set forth is that either the County is LYING that they were involved in such settlement with Travis Brickey or Sgt. Matt Lewis in his professional position as a deputy sheriff for Mesa County is LYING.  Whoever is found to be UNTRUTHFUL you can rest assured VetTheGov will demand resolution and termination. 

VetTheGov has since sent another CORA request on September 15th, 2014 requesting the following and no response yet received:

  • Sgt. Matt Lewis signed confidentiality agreement by Mesa County regarding his civil case settlement involving Travis Brickey and Mesa County provided council Alan Hassler.
  • Contract and payments between Mesa County and Alan Hassler for representing Sgt. Matt Lewis regarding Travis Brickey 4th Amendment excessive force civil case.
  • Total Mesa County settlement amount paid to Travis Brickey in the form of check or money transfer receipt.

It will be interesting as events unfold and information released of who actually paid the settlement along with the amount and who is LYING to Mesa County citizens.  Either way it puts a Sheriff Candidate in the hot seat as an out of control COST to County taxpayers willing to LIE for the position or it exposes a County government that is unwilling to be open and transparent with its tax paying citizens by hiding the Truth for the sake of partisan politics right before your very eyes.  Who will step up and be the light of TRUTH?  Stay tuned...

Saturday
Sep062014

Video Release of Sgt. Matt Lewis and Mesa County Sheriff's Office 4th Amendment Violation

In a previous story exposing the Illegal arrest and Neck tasing of victim Travis Brickey, VetTheGov laid the foundation for the videos you will now watch in horror.  In the two videos (Warning Explicit Language) you will watch the Mesa County Sheriff's Office deputies attempt to coerce the victim out of his house in order to search inside for a man named Donny.  You will hear the deputies get so fixated on a gun while the victim states multiple times he doesn't own or even know how to shoot one.  You will also hear the deputies state multiple times that they weren't even sure why they were there and the victim stating he was afraid of them because all their guns were pointed at him.

The videos show Lt. Wayne Weyler unafraid of a gun and both his hands exposed to the victim with no gun drawn and is standing directly in front of the victims door, which is a very poor tactical position for a man reported with a gun.  Multiple times Lt. Weyler tells the victim he doesn't even know why they are there but just trying to figure out why.  You can tell the game plan all along was to get the victim to the door and allow the takedown taser team to move in and zap the victim in the neck.  Once the takedown team tased the victim they quickly entered the home like a SWAT team performing a dynamic search of the residence while you can hear all along they were looking for a man named Donny inside.  They had to know at this point that the victim was not their intended target especially with all the communication to the victim they were just trying to figure this out. 

In the second part 2 video you will hear the deputies actually try to keep the victim agitated after tasing him by telling him they have to take him to the hospital to remove the taser probe from his neck because they were unable to remove it and telling the victim its another bill for him.  Unbelieveable! 

An interesting development has arisen which needs more explaining by Mesa County Attorney's Office.  In a recent CORA request to the County Attorney regarding this case, the response on Mesa County Attorney's Office letterhead states,  "Mesa County was not a party to this case.  Mesa County has no documents responsive to your request."  In a recent interview by Western Slope Watchdog reporter Jesse Nelson with Sgt. Matt Lewis regarding this Constitutional violation, Sgt. Lewis admits the County did settle with the victim for an undisclosed amount and also signed a confidentiality agreement on his behalf.  Sgt. Lewis also states he would not change the tactics used in this event.  This is not passing the smell test at this point and on face value it seems they don't want the citizens of Mesa County to know about this settlement.  The question remains why? 

Either Sgt. Matt Lewis is completely detached from relevant facts of who represented him in this civil case or the County is simply hiding this from public view.  Someone here isn't telling the TRUTH to Mesa County citizens and the TRUTH must come out!!!  VetTheGov recommends you contact your County Commissioners and ask for further investigation into what appears to be a cover up of illegal activities performed within the Mesa County Sheriff's Office and the Mesa County Attorney's Office.


Stay tuned as VetTheGov will continue digging deeper into who was ultimately responsible monetarily for the actions of the break down your doors guns a blazing and Tasers to the neck Mesa County Sheriff's Deputies.  VetTheGov must note that if you ever want a quick response to your 911 call just mention a gun might be involved and then prepare for the worst!

Friday
Aug292014

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.