Grand Junction attorney claims threat by trooper
Man feared for his life in traffic stop, he tells Patrol
A Grand Junction attorney claims he was threatened during a traffic stop by a Colorado State Patrol trooper, who allegedly reached for his gun during a heated verbal exchange.
Gregory Hoskin, with the firm Hoskin, Farina & Kampf, who has practiced law in Grand Junction for 47 years, said the alleged actions of former State Patrol Trooper Dale Smith on May 5 were akin to a “bully with a badge and a gun on a motorcycle” and put him in fear for his life.
In a letter detailing the incident, Hoskin said he and his wife had been bicycling May 5 in Unaweep Canyon and were returning home on Colorado Highway 141, near U.S. Highway 50, when a trooper on a motorcycle stopped his Toyota 4Runner. The trooper “stated very aggressively” Hoskin was speeding and endangering bicyclists, Hoskin wrote to The Daily Sentinel and State Patrol leaders.
“He proceeded to lecture me in a very strong voice about the danger of drivers like me to bicyclists, and I tried to explain that I am a bicyclist and am extremely careful of them,” Hoskin wrote, adding his 4Runner license plate has a “Share the Road” logo on it.
“He irritated me substantially, and I told him that the risk on the road to bicyclists was worse from the ‘***damned motorcyclists,” Hoskin’s letter continued. “He quickly stepped back from the window and said, ‘Are you cussing me?’ and put his hand on his gun.” Hoskin said he said nothing more.
“I was very conscious of the recent acquittal of Trooper (Ivan) Lawyer for killing an unarmed man in his own home,” Hoskin wrote. “I consider this conduct by an official of the state of Colorado to be absolutely unacceptable.”
Besides the Sentinel, Hoskin also sent the letter to State Patrol Capt. Jeff Goodwin, with the agency’s headquarters in Lakewood, and Capt. Edward Clark, the head of the Fruita-based troop 4A.
Trooper Smith resigned from the State Patrol this past July, Goodwin said. He said State Patrol leadership was unaware of Hoskin’s account until contacted by the newspaper. Smith most recently was assigned to the Fruita troop and started in July 2008 with the State Patrol in Glenwood Springs, Goodwin said.
“He’s no longer with us, so there’s really nothing we can do to react,” he said.
Smith couldn’t be reached for comment.
Asked why he waited until last week to alert officials about the trooper’s actions on May 5, Hoskin said he has been “trying to figure out” how to address the matter for some time.
“I am very supportive of law enforcement, but the public shouldn’t have to go through something like that,” Hoskin said.
Hoskin was cited by Smith for allegedly speeding 10 to 19 mph over the limit.
Trish Mahre, chief deputy Mesa County District Attorney, said the ticket was one of two infractions recently dismissed because Smith was unavailable to testify.
“These dismissals had nothing to do with any allegation concerning the officer,” Mahre wrote in an email.