Sheriff rejects rights claim from ’13 arrest

The Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office is standing behind a deputy accused of civil rights violations.

“Sgt. (Adam) Alcon was not reprimanded, as he did nothing wrong,” said Montezuma County Undersheriff Lynda Carter.

“There is no validity to the allegations,” she said.

Earlier this month, the sheriff’s office was presented with a $60,000 settlement demand in connection to a June 10, 2013, traffic stop that Alcon initiated on the 6000 block of Highway 160 for failure to display a valid automobile tag.

The demand from Durango attorney Douglas Reynolds stated that Jami Larson, the driver of the vehicle, and her husband, passenger Jonathan Boyd, were subjected to excessive force, false arrest and custodial mistreatment as a result of the traffic stop.

Earlier this week, District Attorney Will Furse confirmed that his office subsequently dismissed all criminal charges filed by the sheriff’s office against both parties. He declined to comment further.

In updating county commissioners on Monday, Sheriff Dennis Spruell said the district attorney’s call to shelve the charges opened the door to the potential litigation. He added that claims of civil rights violations were unfounded.

“I’m extremely convinced this case is going nowhere,” Spruell told commissioners.

In a sheriff’s office warrantless affidavit report, Alcon said Boyd was agitated, yelled obscenities and at one point started to “flail his arms” in an “aggressive manner” while sitting in the passenger seat of the vehicle. A holstered .40 caliber handgun, reportedly loaded with a round in the chamber, was retrieved from the backseat of the suspect’s vehicle, according to the affidavit. No statements were included in the affidavit that Boyd was ever in physical possession of the firearm.

Although detailed accounts from husband and wife differ from those of responding law enforcement, there’s no dispute that Alcon threatened to tase Larson before forcing her to the ground. Accounts from both sides also agree that Boyd was held at gunpoint once he attempted to walk away from the scene.

To reveal how actual events unfolded, the Cortez Journal requested a copy of camera footage from Alcon’s patrol car. Reynolds and Boyd said they too requested the video, but no recorded surveillance exists of the incident.

“There is no video or audio,” Carter said. “Not all of the older cars have cameras that work.”

In a seven-page written complaint filed against the sheriff’s office seven days after the incident, Boyd accused Alcon of violating his oath of duty, including the use of “excessive” and “brutal” force.

“(Alcon) beat my wife’s ass,” he said this week.

In addition to disputed accounts between litigants, conflicting eyewitness statements have also been reported. Contained in a nine-page incident report the Cortez Journal obtained from the sheriff’s office for a $6 fee, citizen Ron Pledger said Larson was given three “chances” to comply before she was forced to the ground. Pledger indicated on a June 10 voluntary witness statement that he worked at Redburn Tire Co.

“The man in the car keep yelling I’m gona kick your ass,” Pledger wrote. “I’m gonna kill you.”

Reynolds disagreed, saying the deputy’s actions, instead, were a “complete overreaction,” a claim he said eyewitness Cheryl Dean could verify. He added deputies refused to take Dean’s statement, which contrasted Pledger’s “more supportive of (law enforcements) version of events.”

“When Cheryl Dean of the Antique Corral was provided with a copy of Sgt. Alcon’s report to review, she found his description of the incident to be laughably inaccurate,” Reynolds penned in the settlement demand. “She and her employee, Marty Karston, have both opined that the reaction of and the amount of force used by Sgt. Alcon in the incident was completely excessive and unnecessary given the situation.”