No. 6 " County seizes boy for medical treatment |

No. 6 " County seizes boy for medical treatment

Pete Folwer
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Editor’s Note: Top stories of 2008: 6-10 Sunday and 1-5 on Monday.

NEW CASTLE, Colorado ” The Garfield County All Hazards Response broke down Tom Shiflett’s door the night of Jan. 4 and, following a court order, seized his son for medical care.

The boy was back home a few hours later with a doctor’s recommendation to take Tylenol and apply ice to the bruises. This story easily generated the greatest response and the most letters to the editor of any one story in 2008.

Shiflett’s son Jon had injured himself by grabbing the handle of a moving car and falling. Someone in Apple Tree Park called paramedics who became concerned and alerted county social services when Shiflett refused to allow them to treat Jon.

Shiflett said law enforcement didn’t announce there was a warrant before breaking into his home south of New Castle. He said his rights were violated and his family was needlessly terrorized. Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario said deputies tried to reason with the man before sending the armed team, and Shiflett had a history of confrontational behavior, including chasing a man with an ax. Social services caseworkers said they also tried to explain they believed the boy needed treatment and offered to pay, but Shiflett shouted and said they “better bring an army.”

Part of the reason the confrontation got so much attention was that the World Net Daily news website picked up the story and produced what some said was biased coverage. The Sheriff’s Office and court clerk’s office said they had to field hundreds phone calls from misinformed callers, many of them from across the country. One person even mistakenly asked a court clerk where the boy was being held and why he was being force-fed narcotics.

The story was also picked up by other media outlets. Vallario reportedly participated in a show with Shiflett on a Texas radio station to share his side of the story.

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