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Excessive force allegations may be investigated by CBI

by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — Police reports and other evidence associated with a May 17, 2012 incident on Stacy Drive in Walsenburg in which two women were arrested and two officers injured, have been turned over to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation according to WPD Chief James Chamberlain.
Chamberlain told the Huerfano World Journal on Tuesday, May 29, that he contacted the CBI requesting an outside, independent investigation of the incident in which city police officers Cpl. John Salazar and Rich Isnetto were treated for injuries, as was suspect Amanda Daniels, 22, of Walsenburg.
Chamberlain said he contacted the state investigative agency on the Monday, May 21, 2012 following the incident.
Huerfano County Sheriff Bruce Newman had assigned Detective Sgt. Craig Lessar to investigate citizen allegations that the city officers used excessive force in the arrest of Daniels and Marie Yanez, 30.
“With the CBI getting involved, I’m not sure how far we will go with our investigation,” Newman said Tuesday. Newman said he had contacted CBI regarding the sheriff’s office investigation the middle of last week. “This could be a matter of asking for an outside agency, like Pueblo County, to look into the case for a good, independent investigation,” Newman said.
Chamberlain said this week no formal complaint alleging excessive use of force by police has been filed with the Walsenburg Police Department or with the administration of the City of Walsenburg.
He said all reports and evidence associated with the incident has been turned over to the CBI. He said due to that, he had no other comment on the case at this time.
Chamberlain did say in response to a direct question concerning any video evidence of the incident, Cpl. Salazar’s city-issued body camera did not capture any of the incident and the camera worn by Isnetto was never manually activated by the officer during the initial call response or any time during the altercation between the officers and Daniels and Yanez.
Both Daniels and Yanez are scheduled to appear in district court at 1:30 pm today for an appearance on bond hearing. Both women were released from the Huerfano County Jail on $15,000 bond each last week.
Daniels was initially booked into jail on charges of first, second and third degree assault, and city police reports indicate additional charges of attempted disarming of a peace officer (class 5 felony), resisting arrest and obstructing a peace officer would be filed. The first degree assault charge is a class three felony; the second degree assault charge is a class four felony and the third degree assault charge is a class one misdemeanor. Yanez was charged with second degree assault.
Both Daniels and Yanez are scheduled to appear in district court at 1:30 pm today for an appearance on bond hearing.
Both women were released from the Huerfano County Jail on $15,000 bond each last week.
Police had been initially dispatched to #36 Stacy Drive at 11:14 pm Thursday, May 17 on a noise complaint and possible underage drinking.
No arrests were made or citations issued as a direct result of that complaint call.
The resident of the apartment, Shaylee Montoya, 18, told one of the officers conducting the follow-up investigation she wasn’t hosting a party, but that a large group of young people had showed up in the neighborhood, and two young men had come into her apartment and got into a minor altercation with one another.
One 16-year old male juvenile who was found apparently intoxicated and passed out near the apartment in the early morning hours of May 18, was arrested and summoned for illegal consumption of alcohol by an underage person and possession of drug paraphernalia.
A relative of Montoya contacted the Huerfano World Journal late last week and said Cpl. Salazar had been to the Walsenburg Housing Authority Office two days in a row following the incident. The caller alleged Salazar was attempting to get Montoya evicted from the public housing apartment. Chamberlain said on Tuesday that he was unaware of the allegation but he would “look into it.”
Chamberlain said it has been the police department’s policy, since at least 2000, to make available to the housing authority office all reports of incidents happening on the various housing authority properties in Walsenburg.
Sandy Wagner, the associate director of the housing authority, said Tuesday that office staff have no record of Cpl. Salazar coming to their office any time last week. She said Shaylee Montoya came to the office on Friday, May 18 herself to report what had happened and the housing authority staff had a second meeting scheduled with her for Wednesday, May 30.
Wagner said police have nothing to do with evictions of individuals from the city’s public housing apartments. Evictions are based on housing authority investigations and their own policies and procedures.
She said it is a policy for all incidents at public housing properties to be reported to the agency by police and that practice has been in place for approximately 20 years.

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