More Palin protesters ticketed

Police investigation clears officers who forced people from road

Two more protesters, bringing the total to five, have received tickets from Grand Junction police for darting in front of vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s motorcade.

Some of the nearly dozen protesters were seen on a video being pushed and pulled by police from the road as Palin was being taken to Suplizio Field for her speech Monday.

Grand Junction police officers said they were trying to keep themselves, protesters and members of the motorcade out of the way of oncoming cars at 12th Street and North Avenue.

Three protesters who filed complaints against police for using excessive force were issued summonses Wednesday. Jacob Neal Richards, 27, Mallory Pam Rice, 20, and Jay Sandstedt, 22, each face two class 3 misdemeanor charges of obstructing government operations and obstructing a highway. On Thursday,
Margret Hope Aneloski, 19, of Grand Junction, and Donald Dean Flynn, 20, of Fruita, received tickets for those same charges. An unnamed juvenile may also be ticketed after officials from the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office review the officers’ reports.

Police said they still are investigating the incident and may issue tickets to other protesters.

Grand Junction Police Department spokeswoman Kate Porras said Rice, Sandstedt and Richards were issued tickets first because their appearances on local television stations confirmed their identities to police.

She said the three protesters were not ticketed in retaliation for filing complaints.

Rice and Richards said they have visible scrapes and bruises after being tackled by police.

“The (Grand Junction Police Department) is clearly just folding to political pressure to make some arrests for this event,” Sandstedt said in a statement.

Sandstedt questioned why police, who failed to make arrests immediately after the incident, are choosing now to issue tickets.

Porras said officers could not immediately make arrests because officers needed to continue escorting Palin to the event.

“They put themselves in danger, they also put officers in danger,” Porras said. “They were wearing bandannas, and we had no idea what their intentions were. They were welcome to stay on the sidewalk, but they chose not to do that.”

An internal investigation into the incident has been completed, and the police officers were cleared of wrongdoing and proved they kept the peace during the demonstration, Porras said. The investigation was conducted by a Police Department commander who turned the findings over to a deputy chief, both of whom were not involved in the incident. The results of the investigation are not public, but the results were
included in personnel files of the officers involved in the incident, Porras said.

Police used video of the event, which was widely distributed on the Internet, statements and complaints to complete the investigation.

Everyone who has been issued a summons has picked up the tickets at the police station, Porras said.


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