Deputy charged in jailing of Leadville fire captain
The Denver Post
The district attorney for Lake County has charged a sheriff’s deputy with three crimes relating to the incident last month, in which he arrested and jailed a Leadville fire captain who was responding to a medical emergency call to treat a woman with a neck injury.
Prosecutor Mark Hurlbert said he has charged Deputy Steven James with first-degree official misconduct, obstructing a medical person and trespassing on public property, which is defined as keeping a public official from doing their duty.
Each charge is a Class II misdemeanor and carries the potential of two years in jail if convicted. James was given the summons Wednesday and will have his first court appearance in 60 to 90 days.
Additionally, Hurlbert chose to file no charges against Leadville Fire Capt. Dan Dailey.
On the evening of March 27 a Leadville woman drove to the sheriff’s office to file an abuse complaint against her husband. While talking to James and Deputy Arin Hart, she complained of a neck injury. James had the sheriff’s dispatcher in the next room issued an emergency call for an ambulance.
But Fire Capt. Dailey was monitoring the radio and responded, as well as the ambulance. When he arrived with two other firefighters in the sheriff’s office, James and Hart ordered the firefighters to leave.
Dailey refused. So the deputies handcuffed him and put him in jail while the two other firefighters left. Police Chief Mike Leak arrived at the jail awhile later and removed Dailey from his cell.
Fire Chief Robert Harvey said later that Dailey had acted appropriately by responding to the emergency call.
Leadville officials said there has been a two-year feud between the Sheriff Ed Holte and the fire department over who should be dispatched first to emergency calls. Holte believes the deputies should respond to most calls first to assess the situation, then call the fire department if needed.
However, Mayor Bud Elliott accuses Holte of violating an agreement between the city of Leadville and Lake County over the choice of first responders.
Hurlbert sent investigators to Leadville shortly after the jailing and released his conclusions on Wednesday.
“Our primary concern was the safety of the public,” Hurlbert said. “We felt the deputy kept the EMT (Dailey) from treating the person and that the EMT was merely doing his duty.”
Hurlbert said his office is continuing to investigate another incident last week in which Deputy John Ortega used a Taser stun gun on 30 high school students during a career fair at the school. Ortega, who was immediately suspended for one week without pay, said the students had asked him to Taser them and had given him permission. School officials said the students did not give their permission.
Mike McPhee can be reached at (303) 954-1409 or email@example.com