Rep. Bradford was wrongly attacked
State Rep. Laura Bradford did exactly what she should have done when she was stopped by Denver Police Jan. 25. She asked to be treated like an ordinary citizen.
Earlier this week, The Daily Sentinel strongly criticized Bradford for accepting legislative immunity — perhaps even encouraging it — which prevented her from being arrested or receiving a blood test for possibly driving under the influence of alcohol following a traffic stop.
We were wrong, and we offer our sincere apologies to Bradford for our mistake.
Bradford did not seek or encourage special treatment through the state Constitution’s legislative privilege clause. In fact, she sought to avoid special treatment.
Our error — and that of other media and members of the Colorado Legislature — stemmed from the confusing and inaccurate information released by the Denver Police Department. As a Police Department spokesman noted in a press conference Tuesday afternoon, the department wrongly told the public for nearly a week that Bradford had invoked legislative privilege or used language to suggest she wanted legislative immunity.
It wasn’t until Tuesday’s press conference that police said Bradford asked to be treated like anyone else — not once, but twice. She even asked to take a Breathalyzer test for alcohol.
But the officers on the scene didn’t do that. Acting on the advice of a supervisor, they declined to take her in for further tests, parked and locked her car and arranged for transportation to her Denver apartment.
Even more inexplicable, they failed to mention in their report that Bradford had a loaded gun in her car at the time. Bradford said she has a concealed-carry permit, which would allow her to legally carry a loaded gun in her vehicle. But, even with a permit, it is against the law to carry a loaded weapon when intoxicated.
Compounding the surreal nature of these events, the police spokesman indicated Tuesday the department will provide information on the weapon to the Denver district attorney. The police believe there is sufficient evidence to prosecute on the weapons-violation charge, based on officers’ observations of Bradford at the time of the traffic stop.
We hope the district attorney declines to prosecute. First, even with the officers’ observations, it’s impossible to prove Bradford was inebriated a week later. Secondly, the after-the-fact effort to prosecute Bradford smacks of an attempt by the Denver Police Department to cover its very exposed posterior.
It may well be that Bradford made a mistake in getting behind the wheel that night. But we’ll never know for sure because of how police handled the incident. Bradford’s story — that she had three glasses of wine but wasn’t over the legal blood-alcohol limit, and that she swerved to avoid an open car door — is as credible as the police version of events.
After all, we now know that Bradford was being sincere when she stated Monday, “I am not above the law. I am bound to the same laws and standards as every other citizen.”
We respect her for that stand, and for attempting to make those views clear to Denver Police officers.