Two men freed in cop-shooting case
Vail, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” After being jailed since Aug. 5 on suspicion of shooting a cop, Sergio Esteban Ramirez is going home to eat his favorite dish, his mother’s tostadas.
He walked out of jail Wednesday evening and hugged his mom up off her feet. Family members gave him a shirt to put on with the saying, “Just because I’m Mexican doesn’t make me guilty,” written on it with markers. His plans?
“Go home and work and support my lady,” he said. “Just like I was doing before.”
The District Attorney’s Office decided not to file charges against Ramirez. The 20-year-old Glenwood Springs man was released Wednesday afternoon after being arrested on suspicion of shooting a Glenwood Springs police officer.
District Attorney Martin Beeson said law enforcement was also working to release suspected accomplice Mauricio Villa Garcia Pena, 20, of Silt.
Ramirez said he didn’t know why authorities targeted him and he wasn’t worried charges would be filed against him in the future.
“Me and my homeboy Flaco weren’t even close together that Sunday,” he said. “We were just doing our thing. And shooting a cop ain’t our thing.”
Ramirez’ mother, Norma Ruiz, prayed for her son in church earlier in the day.
“I thank God that there is justice in this world,” she said. “They wasted almost a month having innocent men in jail. When are they really going to do their job?
“I think they need to stop chasing bald people and Hispanic people.”
Christina Ruiz, a cousin who Ramirez was living with at the Roaring Fork Inn, said the room was supposedly raided because they were drug dealers, but all that was found was a pipe carved out of an apple and a bong.
“They destroyed that apartment,” she said. “(The manager) never wants to see me again. … I thought when they do a TRIDENT thing they at least had to have some kind of evidence.”
The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, TRIDENT (the Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team) and the Glenwood Springs Police Department were involved in investigating the shooting. They arrested Ramirez at the Roaring Fork Inn on drug charges, and arrested him again later the same weekend on suspicion of the shooting after he had bonded out of prison.
Christina Ruiz said she’s staying with a friend because no one will rent her an apartment now.
She and Norma Ruiz said they have pictures to prove that authorities tore out walls, destroyed pictures and blew up a door. Christina Ruiz said one officer cursed at her and threatened to have the social services department take her children.
She sent her three young daughters to their father in Mexico because of it, and worries she won’t be able to get them back, she said. Norma Ruiz said she wished authorities would at least publicly apologize after ruining her son’s and her family’s reputation.
Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario said the first entry was made after TRIDENT observed people “smoking dope” in front of the room and obtained a search warrant.
A second entry was made after an arrest warrant was issued for attempted first-degree murder of a peace officer. It was a “dynamic entry” made without knocking due to the serious nature of the suspected crime, he added.
“Our response was appropriate to the level of the case that was involved,” he said. “They can say what they want. I’m sure nobody’s pleased any time we do a raid. It’s not very pleasant when we kick their door down, handcuff people and search their house.”
He said he did have concerns for the children due to the living conditions and since Christina Ruiz allowed people to smoke marijuana in their presence.
Beeson said during the hearing for formal filing of charges that the investigation has not produced enough evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and that he has the ethical obligation not to file charges.
Beeson and Vallario wouldn’t comment while leaving the hearing on whether or not the charges might be filed in the future against either man or if there were other suspects in mind, but said the investigation will come to fruition.
“We’ve chosen at this point to buy time and to continue on with our own investigation,” Beeson said. “It signifies no failure whatsoever.”
Norma Ruiz said her son claims he’s involved with the Surrenos 13 or Sur 13 gang, but that she thinks locally it’s more of a “wanna-be” thing. Sur 13 is a recognized gang originating in southern California. She said Ramirez has gotten in trouble with the law repeatedly for things like underage drinking and smoking marijuana, but would never shoot at someone.
Ramirez said his relationship with Sur 13 is “great,” but had nothing to say about it except “we are who we are.”
“Were they a gang in the sense that they plotted crimes?” defense attorney Ted Hess said. “Absolutely not. Did they sometimes get into trouble? Absolutely, yes.”
Ramirez said he was in the same cell with Garcia Pena, known as “Flaco,” and that they spent some of their 21 hours of maximum security lockdown time each day praying. He thought the incident was a sign to improve his life.
“God put me in here for an eye-opener,” he said. “Me and Flaco, because we both know we were messing up.”
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