Grand Junction police have issued a warrant Wednesday for the arrest of Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters on suspicion of obstruction of a peace officer.
Arrest documents released Wednesday detailed the Republican clerk’s detainment on Tuesday morning at a Grand Junction bagel shop as investigators attempted to obtain an iPad that belonged to Peters. Officers released her that same day, pending charges.
As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, Peters had not been arrested on the warrant for the misdemeanor charge. A $500 bond was set.
Mesa County District Attorney’s Office investigators requested the help of Grand Junction police “with someone obstructing their investigation,” according to the affidavit. The DA’s office was attempting to obtain Peters’ iPad that she allegedly may have used against a judge’s order to record a court hearing for Deputy Clerk Belinda Knisley, according to the search warrant signed on Tuesday. Any possible charge from that investigation is separate from the charge police pursued on Wednesday.
When Grand Junction police officers arrived at Main Street Bagels, they saw DA’s investigators “in a heated discussion with a group of people seated and standing near the front table inside the business,” according to the report written by Officer Vaughn Soderquist. Someone was preventing access to the table and the iPad investigators were trying to take was being passed around from person to person, he said.
Peters also kept obstructing the officer’s access, according to the report. Soderquist wrote that he grabbed Peters by her bicep and moved her toward other officers as he attempted to talk to someone else and she began “actively resisting” so she was put in handcuffs for allegedly obstructing. Peters continued resisting as officers tried to lock the handcuffs and get her car key out of her hand when she kicked back, missing an officer but hitting his magazine pouch and Taser, the report stated.
That’s when officers shouted at Peters not to kick as she yelled at them, Soderquist wrote, as can be seen in a video provided by a witness to 9News. Officers then led her outside where a woman was recording as Peters allegedly continued to resist. Officers told the woman recording to step back as they tried to search her, but then Peters had the woman recording come up to her to whisper something in her ear, according to the officer. The woman wouldn’t step away so they escorted Peters to the officer’s car, the report stated.
Peters continued struggling with the officers as they led her to the car and searched her, Soderquist said, but that she immediately calmed down when she got in the patrol car and out of view of multiple people with cameras.
“As I was attempting to buckle her, she asked if I knew what I was doing and then she stated I was assisting a Merrick Garland,” Soderquist wrote. “She continued talking about something pertaining to the election as I closed the patrol car door, but this was indiscernible as she was almost whispering once in the car.”
Soderquist said DA investigators informed officers who the suspect was — Peters — and that they were pursuing potential charges related to tampering with physical evidence and obstruction so police shouldn’t file a duplicate obstruction charge. The officers released Peters at their request.
A DA investigator told Peters why he was taking the silver iPad, which she said wasn’t hers, and she told the investigator she wished he would investigate election fraud issues, according to the report.
After Peters got out of the car, she allegedly ignored the investigator and had someone take pictures of her wrists, complaining she was injured, but she refused an ambulance. She said the iPad belonged to someone named Tammy Bailey, but wouldn’t give any other information before walking away, according to the report.
The DA’s Office ultimately decided not to file a felony charge, which is why the Grand Junction Police Department is seeking an obstructing a peace officer charge and arrest warrant, according to the report.
District Attorney Dan Rubinstein told The Denver Post in an email that while there was probable cause for the felony charge, he didn’t feel “that the conduct justified that level of filing since the evidence tampered with was ultimately recovered,” but the obstruction charge has been filed.
In a written statement from Peters’ legal defense fund, spokesperson Rory McShane reiterated that the search warrant Tuesday only included the iPad and not car keys or searching of Peters. The statement alleged that officers “left bruises, contusions and injuries to her wrists and arms” and that “this continues the theme of excessive force and harassment that Clerk Peters has dealt with for months, including battering rams used on homes during searches.”
Mesa County Clerk Peters has been the subject of multiple investigations, including most recently a grand jury investigation into allegations of election equipment tampering and official misconduct in Mesa County. Peters is accused of allegedly allowing unauthorized access to elections equipment during a Dominion Voting Systems software update in May as well as allegedly breaching election security protocols after which passwords from the voting equipment were posted online.
A judge barred her and Knisley from overseeing the 2021 election in Mesa County and the secretary of state’s office has sued to stop Peters from overseeing the 2022 election after Peters refused to comply with new protocols. Peters is also facing state ethics and campaign finance complaints.
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