Cacioppo says he intends to sue Vail, police officer |

Cacioppo says he intends to sue Vail, police officer

Dustin Racioppi
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado “-A well-known local claims his First Amendment and personal rights were violated by a police officer last month, and he’s notified the town of Vail that he intends to sue Vail and one of its officers.

Michael Cacioppo, who was never charged with a crime, sent his letter of intent Nov. 25 via e-mail saying he “will not tolerate this abusive activity without repercussions.”

His anger stems from an incident at a West Vail roundabout on Nov. 1 when Cacioppo, 57, managing director of the Business Briefs newspaper, called police when he saw what he initially thought were two people replacing Republican campaign signs with Democrat ones. When he realized he was mistaken, Cacioppo called police and told them to disregard the previous call, but an officer, Darren Anderson, had already arrived.

The police report says Cacioppo spoke to Anderson with an elevated and disturbed voice and was confrontational with the officer. The situation escalated when, according to the Anderson’s account in the police report, Cacioppo appeared to be holding a knife. Anderson noticed it was a Swiss Army knife and it appeared to be closed ” just as Cacioppo claims ” but he said in the report he wasn’t 100 percent certain. Anderson told Cacioppo to drop it, then reached for his gun because, he said in the report, “I was in fear for my life.”

Anderson said Cacioppo disregarded him, saying, “Oh, please.” Anderson drew his gun and pointed it at Cacioppo and continued to shout at him to drop the knife, according to the police report. He told Cacioppo at least three times to drop the knife, he said, though a witness in the police report said Cacioppo complied with the officer’s request the first time he heard Anderson shout. Cacioppo was put in handcuffs after he dropped the knife, according the police report. Anderson said he placed the handcuffs on Cacioppo and sat him on the ground, and Cacioppo said he was handcuffed at gunpoint.

Now Cacioppo “-who said in an e-mail Anderson’s actions were illogical and illegal ” wants Anderson off the streets, and believes a lawsuit against him and the town is in order.

“At this point, he could possibly save his career if he were to admit fault, apologize, get some reasonable punishment and absolutely get more training,” Cacioppo said in an e-mail. “However, I am deeply disturbed by his lies, his illegal attempt to create the illusion that I had committed a crime and his lie to try to make it look like I didn’t follow his instructions. As one witness said, I followed his instructions.”

Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger said the department is conducting an investigation into the incident, but there isn’t much else the department can do until a suit is filed.

“Upon review of (the investigation), we’ll take the appropriate action for any policy or law violation,” he said. “Until that time, I fully support the officers in the department.”

Cacioppo said he would like to file the lawsuit by Christmas, while Henninger said he would like to resolve the issue without a lawsuit at all.

“It’s all in Mr. Cacioppo’s court right now,” Henninger said.

Dustin Racioppi can be reached at 970-748-2936 or

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