Charges filed against Aspen teen in takedown arrest
The 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office on Friday filed four charges against the Aspen teen whose Feb. 6 arrest has sparked community debate about police tactics and teen behavior.
Also Friday, The Aspen Times obtained a second video of the takedown arrest, in which the student tells officer Adam Loudon that he hasn’t committed a crime before Loudon instructs him to put his hands behind his back.
“I haven’t done anything illegal,” the teen says. “You don’t have the right to do this.”
Meanwhile, several student bystanders verbally lashed out at Loudon with four-letter expletives and demeaning remarks. One repeatedly tells Loudon: “I hope you burn in hell.”
The student is scheduled to answer charges Tuesday in juvenile court in Pitkin County. Prosecutor Andrea Bryan said she filed two misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest and obstructing a police officer and two petty charges of underage possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Bryan also said she obtained a fourth video of the arrest Friday. She declined to discuss the case further.
Videos of the arrest have circulated on various social-media and news sites and have sparked numerous opinions in the community.
The Aspen Police Department has stood by the tactics used to take down the student, whom Loudon approached because he believed he was rolling a joint, police said.
The video shows Loudon having difficultly placing handcuffs on the student. The officer calls for backup and soon, an off-duty police officer and an Aspen firefighter appear and aid Loudon in the takedown.
The incident occurred at the bus stop off Maroon Creek Road, located between the school campus and the Aspen Recreation Center. It’s an area that has been problematic for student use of substances, school administrators and police have said.
The video shows the 16-year-old resisting arrest. His attorney also said it appears that the student was resisting.
“First, no one is required to be polite or to cooperate with the police officer,” said Aspen attorney Ryan Kalamaya, of RKV Law. “The police officer is allowed to ask their name, what they’re doing and conduct an investigative stop. But the Fifth Amendment protects someone from having to talk to the officer.”
Kalamaya said he questioned the obstruction of a police officer charge.
“My client says, ‘please, please, sir,’ he doesn’t run away and he’s certainly not complicit,” the attorney said. “I can understand the argument that he was resisting.”
Kalamaya said he was disappointed with the Police Department’s response.
“There’s been no accountability from the officer, in my mind, for this,” he said.
Kalamaya maintained that Loudon’s claim that he saw the student rolling a joint was off-base. After the arrest, police seized marijuana and a pipe from the teen’s backpack, Kalamaya said.
“My client intends to take responsibility for his actions,” Kalamaya said. “Although he repeatedly called Officer Loudon ‘sir,’ and said ‘please stop,’ he should have relied on the legal process. We are still in the process of investigating the circumstances leading to the arrest. To date, we are unaware of any evidence that corroborates the officer’s story that my client was rolling a joint.”
Kalamaya said Loudon lacked probable cause to make the arrest.
“According to two other witnesses, my client showed his hands to the officer,” he said. “The officer then asked my client to put his hands behind his back even though he was sitting down and wearing a backpack that made it nearly impossible to comply. It still remains unclear whether the officer had probable cause to lawfully place my client under arrest. The officer failed to tell him why he was being arrested or advise of him of his constitutional rights under Miranda v. Arizona.”
On Friday, police, school officials and students met at the high school to discuss the incident.
“We are hopeful that this incident results in positive change for the community,” Kalamaya said. “Young adults can be reminded that there is a legal system for disputes such as this. The pen is mightier than the sword. The situation could have been handled better by all those involved.”
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