Dropped cases, ruined lives | VailDaily.com

Dropped cases, ruined lives

Don Rogers

In each case Vail police investigated alleged wrongdoing and in concert with the District Attorney’s Office found enough cause to charge these men.

Eagle County Judge Teri Diem dropped the last charges against Gillie this week, a full year and a half after his arrest on theft and child pornography charges. That’s a long time to dangle, have life as you knew it wrecked, and then have the entire case dismissed in the end. There’s a cold comfort.

Medeiros lost his automotive repair business for the mistake of towing cars for a con, Leo Lala, who pleaded guilty to conspiring to steal autos in a somewhat tangled affair from his own car rental company. An off-shoot was that horrible scene of a SWAT team-like repossession of a van that the brother of then-Vail Councilman Keven Foley had bought from Lala before they could drive to the airport to attend the funeral of their father.

Medeiros dangled for four months before charges were dismissed, and then endured insult atop injury when a Vail police officer declared he was still being investigated. Then it that was the case had been turned over to the District Attorney’s Office. The DA said the case was over. Vail police sent it along to some state agency or another, and of course there’s been nothing since. An apology somewhere along the line might have been nice.

In the meantime, the officer who investigated Medeiro’s case and the police chief moved on to greener pastures. Medeiros moved, too, to somewhere he wasn’t tainted.

The point here isn’t to dredge up past indiscretions other than to suggest the obvious: Law enforcement has tremendous power. Mistakes that lead to dismissed cases still ruin lives, even in our “innocent until proven guilty” code of justice.

Journalists – as carriers of the news – have a hand, too. But they aren’t in a position to decide whether this higher-profile case is nuthin’ but this one is legit. At least not at first. All that falls back to the judicial system. Unless, as Chief Moose put it during the D.C. sniper shootings, you want Channel 9 (or whatever) to take over the investigation.

Short answer: no. The pros need to handle it, and we know their job is as challenging as it gets. But they have to remember they hold people’s reputations -which can have profound effects on their livelihoods if not their lives – in the balance as they investigate cases, especially the tangled ones.

The Gillie and Medeiros cases suggest there’s room for improvement, among local police and in the District Attorney’s Office. We’ll be watching the new case vs. Avon Councilman Pete Buckley with interest.


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