No charges in threat against Palisade mayor
Palisade police will not pursue criminal charges against the owner of a local bar who posted a message on Facebook indicating elected town officials, including the mayor, were “overdue” for an “(expletive) kickin.”
Police Chief Carroll Quarles said although it was clear Livery owner John VanLandingham threatened Mayor Dave Walker, his words didn’t rise to a criminal level.
The message stemmed from a Feb. 26 incident at the bar in which Walker and Mayor Pro Tem Mario Coringrato got into an argument with a group of people that included Wayne Reid, who’s running for the Town Board of Trustees. Walker claimed someone in the group pretended to pull out a gun and shoot him, and bar staff didn’t offer any help to him. Witnesses contended Walker, on his way out, yelled that he would shut the bar down.
On March 5, Quarles said Town Administrator Tim Sarmo passed along to him a copy of a Facebook posting Sarmo had received anonymously. The message was posted on a Facebook account with VanLandingham’s name.
The message, which was later taken down, read:
“I hate when elected town officials come into your business, INTOXICATED, and state that they ARE THE MAYOR OF THE TOWN AND IM GOING TO SHUT THIS PLACE DOWN ... I think they have not recieved a Old Fashion Palisade Peach Orchard (expletive) Kickin in a while, And is overdue for one, My thoughts is to get your GQ (expletive) back to aspen, whats your thoughts ...”
More than 20 people posted responses to the message, most of which supported VanLandingham.
In a supplemental police report prepared Monday, Quarles wrote that he assigned officer Dan Dranginis to investigate the message. VanLandingham told Dranginis that he had no intention of hurting Walker and was merely angry about what Walker said.
Quarles wrote in the report that in order for someone to be guilty of menacing, state law requires that the threat be accompanied by the possibility of “serious bodily injury” and that a deadly weapon be involved.
“Even though it is clear that a threat occurred, the legal threshold of meeting the elements of the offense of menacing was not met,” Quarles wrote.
The police chief wrote that he advised VanLandingham that if anything happened to Walker or Coringrato or their property, officers would first look to VanLandingham and his friends for evidence.
“Mr. VanLandingham admitted that he had not given thought to such a scenario and became very concerned,” Quarles wrote in the report.
Quarles concluded the report by indicating officers have been directed to focus their patrols around Walker’s and Coringrato’s homes for the time being, especially at night.