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Officers investigated for use of excessive force

by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — Two Walsenburg police officers have been under investigation for excessive use of force by the state bureau of investigation stemming from an incident that allegedly occurred during the East Peak Fire.
Walsenburg Police Chief Tommie McLallen confirmed his office received the complaint on July 9, 2013 when the two officers were manning a checkpoint on Ideal Road (CR 330) in a mutual aid situation with Huerfano County Sheriff’s deputies. McLallen would not release details of the alleged incident but said both officers have remained on duty throughout the investigation.
McLallen said it was not appropriate at this time to identify the officers named in the complaint, nor the name of the resident who made the allegation.
McLallen said the complaint was filed with WPD Captain Vince Suarez by the civilian involved in the incident. McLallen said he discussed the issue with Huerfano County Sheriff Bruce Newman to see if his department wanted to handle the investigation due to the fact it allegedly occurred in the sheriff’s jurisdiction. He said the sheriff declined and after reviewing the complaint and the officer’s reports McLallen contacted the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and requested that agency investigate the matter. He said an agent was assigned to the case within a few days after the WPD received the complaint.
McLallen told the Huerfano World Journal this week he believes the investigation will be completed very soon.
Although a new management team was in place at the police department at the time the complaint was brought forward, McLallen said he felt, being new to the department, it would be a better choice to have the complaint investigated by an outside agency. “We take any allegation like this very seriously,” McLallen said, “but we are not going to release the details of the allegation at this time to protect the integrity of the investigation.”
It is understood the incident involved a resident who was trying to enter either the pre-evacuation or mandatory evacuation area during the fire emergency.
McAllen said he believed the civilian was cited and released for obstructing an officer and resisting arrest following the incident.
Once the CBI investigation has been finished,police management will then decide how to move forward regarding any disciplinary actions against the officers involved.