Rifle family, including child, assaulted | PostIndependent.com

Rifle family, including child, assaulted

Will Grandbois
wgrandbois@postindependent.com
Derrick Gage Smith

Two people were arrested Jan. 4 after one of them reportedly forced his way into a Rifle home and attacked the occupants, who included a 10-year-old.

Derrick Gage Smith, 27, of New Castle, and Tajia Cleveland, 24, of Lander, Wyoming, were picked up in a blue station wagon that matched the description of the car seen leaving the scene of the attack at around 8 a.m. Sunday. A third suspect, Wesley Cherry, does not appear to have been apprehended.

According to the arrest affidavits in two cases involving Smith, a Rifle woman told police that Smith, an acquaintance, had visited the house a couple of days before and was asked to leave. When Smith sent a threatening text, she called a friend to stay the night with the family in case he showed up.

Both the family and their friend gave a similar account of what happened when Smith arrived with Cherry and pushed his way into the house when their 10-year-old son answered the door, according to the affidavits. The boy’s father confronted Smith and told him to leave, and a fight ensued. The father was reportedly struck with a wrench and the son was hurt attempting to take the wrench away. Cherry, held in the doorway by the friend who had stayed the night, reportedly urged Smith to flee, and the pair ran out of the apartment to the car, which the 10-year-old said had a driver waiting. The husband threw the wrench after the pair, but missed.

An ambulance was called to the house, though details of the family members’ injuries were not reported.

A Garfield County sheriff’s deputy spotted the vehicle on Highway 6 soon after and pulled it over. Cleveland was found to be driving with a suspended license and expired registration. The sole passenger identified himself as Chris Scott but gave a birthday identical to Derrick Smith’s.

The deputy requested backup, and when Rifle police arrived, they provided a photograph of Smith that matched the passenger. According to the affidavits, Smith initially refused to get out of the vehicle and continued to give a false identity. Confronted with his real name, he tried to run, but was apprehended and handcuffed.

A search of the vehicle yielded a tablet computer believed stolen in a separate case, several needles and a substance that tested presumptive positive for methamphetamine.

Cleveland was arrested for possession of a controlled substance, a felony, as well as driving without a license and failing to provide proof of insurance, both misdemeanors.

According to her arrest affidavit, she told police that she had arrived in Rifle a couple of days before and met Smith and Cherry the previous night. She said the pair had offered to show her how to get to Wal-Mart and asked her to drive them by the site of the reported assault. She denied having any idea what the pair was up to until they came running out, being chased. She said had dropped Cherry off before being stopped by authorities.

Cleveland was later released on her promise to appear in court.

Smith, who had warrants out of Garfield County, Kit Carson County and Oklahoma, was arrested on felony charges of criminal impersonation, possession of a controlled substance, first-degree burglary, assault in the second degree and menacing, as well as misdeameanor third degree assault, child abuse, and theft.

After transporting Smith, the Rifle officer found a handcuff key, a chain and a folded-up dollar bill with suspected cocaine in the back seat of his car.

Smith was being held at the Garfield County Jail on a $26,500 bond.


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