by Rick Langenberg:
Complaint targets local DUI Officer of the Year….
The Woodland Park Police are conducting an internal investigation into allegations of excessive force by an officer regarding the arrest of a 22-year-old woman at a local residence.
The inquiry has already sparked concerns from neighbors at Mountain View Place and family members, who classify this as a case of abuse of power. They are mulling civil action against the agency.
But the incident has generated mixed reviews, with local police officials indicating that the case was sparked by a report of domestic violence near the Sonic Drive-In on the evening of May 3. According to police officials, an arrest then occurred about an hour and a half later at a local residence following an apparent dispute among two police officers, a supervisor and Cortney Rocchi of Woodland Park. Rocchi was subsequently arrested on charges of harassment, domestic violence and resisting arrest.
“Woodland Park is out of control,” said one source close to the case. The dispute apparently occurred when officers questioned Rocchi outside her Mountain View Place residence.
According to a KRDO news report, Rocchi said she was questioned for reportedly “flipping someone off earlier in the evening.” The situation got ugly when the woman, who is getting a master’s degree in criminal justice, inquired why she was being questioned. “He said, ‘I was resisting arrest by asking him why he was arresting me’ and he just threw me to the ground,” Rocchi said in a television interview on KRDO.
A video of the scene, taken by a few neighbors, indicated a definite dispute occurred between Rocchi and several officers, and she hit the ground during the clash. Her arrest was recorded on their cell phones.
According to Woodland Park Police Chief Bob Larson, the agency is currently doing an internal investigation regarding the actions of Officer Brian Martinez, who has been with the agency for a year and a half. Martinez previously worked with the Teller County Sheriff’s Department. He was one of two officers and a supervisor who investigated the complaint against the Woodland Park woman. “He has a good record with us,” said Larson, who confirmed that Martinez was awarded as the DUI (driving under the influence) officer of the year for the Fourth Judicial District in the last year.
Larson said he couldn’t comment on the status of the investigation until it is completed.
Rocchi was reportedly covered in bruises and said she also incurred a dislocated wrist. “Shouldn’t have ever happened,” said neighbor Pete Ramirez who witnessed the arrest, during a television report. “It was just a straight abuse of power.”
Rocchi’s mother, Teresa Baker, echoed similar sentiments, noting there are “good and bad cops.”
According to the police chief, the results of these types of inquiries can result in no action by the agency, to a slight reprimand, to a termination of the officer. Larson said in the last year the agency conducted probably eight internal investigations of complaints regarding the actions of local police officers. But he cautioned these complaints varied from people merely complaining about the politeness of an officer, to more serious allegations. Martinez is still on duty, pending the outcome of the inquiry.
Meanwhile, Rocchi had her first court appearance earlier this week. According to family members, she has never had previous issues with the Woodland Park Police.