Cop suspected Bradford was drunk

Supervisor prevented gun, driving citations, police report says

DENVER—The Denver police officer who pulled over Rep. Laura Bradford on Jan. 25 said he wanted to issue the Collbran Republican a citation for driving under the influence of alcohol, but he was told not to.

Officer Brian Klaus also said he believed Bradford’s blood-alcohol level was about 0.2 percent, more than twice the legal limit to be considered too drunk to drive.

Those details are in a report released Wednesday by the Denver Police Department internal affairs bureau, which is investigating whether a police supervisor involved in the traffic stop lied about the incident and withheld information about what occurred.

The report was forwarded Wednesday to a House Ethics Committee that had been investigating whether Bradford had been drinking while driving and if she invoked a little-known legislative immunity clause in the Colorado Constitution to get out of a DUI. The committee was dissolved earlier this month because it could find no evidence Bradford had violated any legislative rules.

The incident began after Bradford left a downtown Denver bar where she claimed to be meeting with current and former legislators and lobbyists to discuss bills pending before this year’s session.

About 10 p.m. Jan. 25, Klaus pulled over Bradford, 55, who was driving her white Ford Edge with legislative license plates.

In his statement to internal affairs included in the report, Klaus said he first noticed Bradford when she made an improper left turn a few blocks from the bar. After catching up to her a few blocks away with his overhead lights on and siren wailing, Klaus said Bradford made another turn, nearly hit a parked car and continued to drive another two blocks before finally pulling over.

“I smelled an alcoholic beverage on the party and asked if she had been drinking, which she said, ‘Yes, one glass of wine,’ ” Klaus said in his statement. “I called for a supervisor.”

That supervisor, Sgt. Benita Packard, later advised Klaus that department policy prevented him from citing Bradford with a DUI. She also said he was not to cite her on suspicion of having a loaded handgun in her car even though it’s illegal to have such a weapon while intoxicated.

Klaus said Packard removed the firearm from the car, unloaded it and put it in Bradford’s purse. Klaus later confirmed Bradford has a concealed-carry permit.

“I was disappointed in the first place that I had to let Mrs. Bradford go on the DUI as I clearly stated to Bradford and Sgt. Packard,” Klaus said. “When Sgt. Packard stated this is what we were going to do with the firearm, it made me upset and I clearly stated that to Mrs. Bradford that it wasn’t my decision to let her go. I did not feel comfortable letting her go, but I kept my mouth shut.”

Klaus said Bradford twice told the officers they shouldn’t give her any special treatment.

Klaus also said Bradford performed several roadside sobriety tests, and she failed each one. He ended up issuing her citations on suspicion of improper lane change and careless driving.

“I explained to her she was roughly a 0.20 BAC. I then asked her again how much she had to drink, and she responded, ‘three glasses of wine,’ ” Klaus said. “I told her how lucky she was to not be going to jail for DUI.”

Bradford was put into a cab and told to go home.

“After the taxi left, Sergeant Packard then told me to keep the handgun part of the (traffic) stop quiet and only we would know,” Klaus said in the statement. “I talked with multiple officers about the gun due to my being uncomfortable with the situation.”

After the traffic stop became public three days later, the incident made international news when Denver police, acting on information from Packard, said Bradford had avoided a DUI by invoking legislative privilege.

The department later apologized, but House Speaker Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, still ordered the ethics probe.

Before the ethics panel dissolved itself earlier this month, Bradford had threatened to leave the GOP, putting the party’s one-vote majority in the House in jeopardy.

Bradford also was removed as chairwoman of the House Local Government Committee. She was reinstated to that post earlier this week.


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