Rifle man charged after bar altercation, claims unnecessary police force | PostIndependent.com
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Rifle man charged after bar altercation, claims unnecessary police force

Pete FowlerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A trial began Tuesday for a man whose attorney said he was Tased 10 to 14 times after New Year’s Eve in Rifle.”It will become clear that on this day, Mr. Pino decided to have some drinks, got very belligerent and aggressive, and was belligerent and aggressive with everyone he encountered,” said Deputy District Attorney Amy Fitch.Rifle Police and Garfield County Deputies arrested Dominic Pino, 35 at the time, after an altercation at a bar in Rifle in the early hours of Jan. 1, 2006. He was booked on charges including second-degree assault on a peace officer, second degree assault resulting in serious bodily injury and criminal mischief.Questions about the appropriate use of Tasers could be an issue in the trial. But 9th Judicial District Judge Denise Lynch reminded defense attorney John Sullivan that Tasers are not on trial after he began criticizing them during his opening statement.According to Fitch, Pino went to a bar in Rifle with his wife and mother to celebrate New Year’s Eve. A physical altercation ensued around 1 a.m. after Pino became upset with a man flirting with his mother, Fitch said.She said surveillance videos will show Pino acting aggressive and repeatedly pushing the man after a bouncer separated them. Pino broke a window after leaving the bar and police were called, she said, and a Rifle police officer subsequently encountered Pino down the street struggling with his wife and mother, who were trying to get his shirt back on him.Fitch said the officer repeatedly asked Pino to stop while backing away despite Pino advancing and acting aggressively. He was still struggling with his wife and mother, threatened the officer and told the officer to shoot him with a Taser, Fitch said. The officer shot Pino with a Taser after drawing it as a deterrent had no effect, Fitch said, and Pino then pushed his wife – dislocating her shoulder – and continued toward the officer.Fitch said despite additional “drive stuns” from the Taser, Pino shoved and kicked the officer so hard that he “flew” and landed on a bench hard enough to break its metal legs. Witnesses will testify Pino then started kicking the officer while he was on the ground, she added.Fitch said a deputy arrived, the struggle continued violently while Pino was Tased additional times and eventually arrested after another officer arrived. His mother began to fight with officers, she said, and Pino was also aggressive and uncooperative afterwards at the hospital.Pino’s mother, Consuelo Pino, was sentenced in February to 90 days of home detention and 80 hours of public service after pleading guilty to felony menacing.But Sullivan said the whole thing could have been avoided and that authorities’ use of Tasers forced Pino to react, which only caused additional shocks.”What you will hear is that on the evening in question, he never intended to hurt anybody,” Sullivan said. “This whole thing could have been avoided.”An eyewitness couldn’t identify Pino as the man seen breaking the window, Sullivan said, and it’s interesting that Pino wasn’t charged for the incident that began the conflict with police – the bar altercation.Sullivan said the officer drew his Taser, a weapon which sinks two barbs into the skin and delivers 50,000 volts of electricity. About 150 people have died after being shot with Tasers, Sullivan said. His criticism of Tasers was stopped short after the objection.Pino was Tased 10 to 14 times and hit with a painful amount of electricity that caused him to resist, Sullivan said.”He didn’t touch anybody before he was Tased,” he said.Sullivan said Pino tried to push his wife and mother behind him because he saw the officer raising the Taser toward him.”He’s on the ground, handcuffed, and the Tasing continues,” Sullivan said.Despite prosecutors attempts to characterize Pino as belligerent and uncooperative, the evidence will show that Pino was injured, spitting, crying and asking for his wife and mother after the arrest. As Pino listened to Sullivan on Tuesday, he became visibly upset and dabbed his eyes with a tissue.The trial is scheduled to continue through Friday.Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121pfowler@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO


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