Palisade officer back on job after disciplinary action

Palisade Police Chief Carroll Quarles on Wednesday said an officer who had been accused of harassing an ex-girlfriend is back on the job.

Stephen Tonello, 26, returned to work Nov. 9, three days after Mesa County prosecutors filed a court motion dismissing a harassment case against the officer.

Quarles said an internal investigation found Tonello had violated department policy, and the officer was disciplined. Quarles declined to elaborate.

“Tonello has admitted his mistake and has been appropriately disciplined,” Quarles wrote in an e-mail Wednesday to The Daily Sentinel.

Quarles said the legal system’s treatment of Tonello was “commendable,” and “the system worked the way it is supposed to.”

The chief, however, said the decision of a Mesa County Sheriff’s Department deputy to arrest Tonello was “debatable,” but added, “There should be no sense of entitlement by a law enforcement officer to get a break.”

Prosecutors said they could not prove Tonello committed misdemeanor harassment by phone when he sent a series of text messages to his ex-girlfriend on Oct. 22 and Oct. 23 and showed up at her home in the predawn hours of Oct. 23.

In the motion to dismiss, Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Springer wrote that the ex-girlfriend did not want the case prosecuted.

Tonello spent two nights in the Mesa County Jail. He was booked just before noon on Oct. 23 and released at 11 a.m. on Oct. 25 after posting a $200 bond, according to jail records.


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