Woman says trooper left her baby, teen alone in car
GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado ” A Grand Junction woman says a state trooper left her baby and her teenage niece unattended in her car for 25 minutes one night when he took her to jail after a traffic stop.
The Colorado State Patrol said it has taken action against the trooper, but officials said they could not give specifics because it’s a personnel issue.
Keio Saupaia said Trooper Jeffrey Verbas pulled her over at about 11 p.m. on April 28 when she had her 7-month-old daughter and 15-year-old niece with her.
She said Verbas contacted her sister to come get the children, but that he didn’t wait for the sister to arrive before taking Saupaia to jail.
“If that was me, I could have been charged with child abuse,” she said.
Verbas did not have a listed phone number, and State Patrol officials did not immediately return calls to The Associated Press on Monday.
Patrol Capt. Ed Clark told the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel in Monday’s editions that the incident was isolated and violated agency protocol.
“I can guarantee you that this is not a trend or a policy of the Colorado State Patrol,” he said. “Our mission is to provide a safe and secure environment, which would mean an officer should stay at the scene.”
Clark said he learned about the incident when Suapaia’s family members called him.
“I would ask the public to trust that the Colorado State Patrol handled this appropriately (after learning about it),” he said.
Suapaia said neither she nor her sister is upset about the incident, but they hope nothing similar happens to someone else.
Saupaia said she was booked into jail on a 10-year-old warrant for a dog violation.
Mesa County jail officials referred calls about Saupaia’s arrest to the State Patrol.
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