No-contact order against officer lifted at accuser’s request

A Palisade police officer accused of harassing an ex-girlfriend appeared in Mesa County Court for a brief hearing Friday.

Judge Gretchen Larson agreed to a request to lift a no-contact order against the officer, 26-year-old Stephen Tonello, who is on paid leave from the Police Department.

The request was submitted by Tonello’s accuser.

The order had been in place since Tonello’s arrest on Oct. 23 on suspicion of harassment, a misdemeanor domestic violence charge.

Tonello, who is free on $200 bond, is scheduled to return to court next month.

Palisade Police Chief Carroll Quarles said Tonello is still the subject of an internal investigation.

According to an arrest affidavit, Tonello’s ex-girlfriend told a Mesa County Sheriff’s Department deputy she recently broke up with Tonello because he was too controlling. She claimed he had also harassed her over the phone.

Tonello sent her six text messages between 3:45 a.m. and 8 a.m. on Oct. 23, the woman alleged. The messages were a mix of disparaging and complimentary remarks, with one message thanking her, adding “now I can finally move on,” the affidavit said.

The woman suspected Tonello knocked on her bedroom door at least twice that morning. She confronted him the second time, the affidavit said.

“Tonello said he wanted to talk to her, but then said ‘never mind’ and left after he saw the woman’s new boyfriend standing behind her,” the affidavit said.

Tonello, a Grand Valley native, was hired by the department in April.

According to court records, Tonello’s brush with the law Oct. 23 wasn’t his first in Mesa County.

In May 2006, he pleaded guilty to driving with expired license plates. In 2007, Tonello was charged with misdemeanor unlawful possession of personal identification information. Court records indicate the case was dismissed by a county court judge on Feb. 6, 2007.

Quarles on Friday said he was aware of Tonello’s previous criminal matters and declined comment.


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