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Second suspect released

Pete FowlerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Guille Villa had trouble eating and sleeping for the two weeks her son was in jail as a suspected accomplice to a police officer shooting.”I just think it’s not very professional how the police handled this case,” Villa said. “They didn’t have any proof against Mauricio.”On Friday she described her view of the Aug. 9 arrest of her son, Mauricio Villa Garcia Peña, 20. He was released Thursday morning after prosecutors decided there wasn’t sufficient evidence to file charges against him. Guille Villa said she spoke with him after the release and that he was unavailable. She wouldn’t go into detail.Her husband and son were getting ready to go to bed when the door was knocked down at their ranch of 12 years in Silt. About eight men with guns entered the house, some wearing masks.”They were all pointing guns at us,” she said. “They didn’t even show us a warrant or anything. They didn’t even explain what they were doing to us.”Villa, her husband and her 13-year-old son were handcuffed and told to go outside, Villa said.According to Villa, she was wearing only undergarments, and she asked if she could please put on some clothes besides only her underwear, but was not allowed. Nor was her husband. She said law enforcement broke holes in one internal wall and one external wall in Garcia Peña’s apartment, on the second story of a separate building on the property.Villa said they were told what the entry was about approximately two hours after the door was knocked down. Authorities also wouldn’t loosen restraints that caused her hands to swell, and when those were finally adjusted, she said, she was shocked when someone threatened her not to run off because they had a dog that could chase her.”It was very inappropriate,” she said. “It was ridiculous. We’re not criminals.”She said the worst trouble Garcia Peña has ever been in was joy-riding in a car that someone else had stolen. She thought authorities were unfairly targeting Hispanic kids who shave their heads and have been in some trouble.”He’s been in a little trouble, but not like you have to be afraid of him,” she said.Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario and 9th Judicial District Attorney Martin Beeson have said the searches and arrests were done legally and reasonably. They explain that when a warrant is issued for attempted first-degree murder of a police officer, authorities consider the entries extremely dangerous situations, which called for the “no knock” or “dynamic entry” type of responses known to involve some property damage.Beeson said he would indefinitely oppose unsealing any of the related affidavits for search or arrest warrants at this time, citing an ongoing investigation and protecting the identity of witnesses. He also wouldn’t talk about details of the investigation or why law enforcement arrested who they did.All Villa could gather about the reasoning behind the arrest was that Anthony Villegas and maybe some others in their teens or early 20s told police that her son was involved.”If I told them someone shot a cop would they arrest that person?”Villa was especially puzzled by the serious manner of entry since authorities suspected Garcia Peña as an accomplice, not being the actual shooter.”If they knew that he didn’t shoot him, why were they so afraid of him?”She said if authorities did investigate, they would have learned that she and her family are good, hardworking citizens and not criminals who shoot police.”They didn’t have any proof, and the descriptions didn’t match at all to Mauricio,” she said, adding that Mauricio is 6-foot-3 and the tallest suspect description was 5-foot-7.She said the worst was how it ruined her son’s and her family’s reputation. Norma Ruiz and other family members of Sergio Esteban Ramirez also said law enforcement’s search and arrest conduct seemed excessive and inappropriate. Ramirez, the suspected shooter, was released Wednesday also for lack of sufficient evidence to file charges. Beeson and Vallario said not filing charges was a strategic decision, to buy more time for investigation without the time constraints of the courts. They wouldn’t rule out Ramirez or Garcia Peña as suspects.”I haven’t seen an apology from the sheriff or anyone,” Villa said. “They have no idea how much they hurt these families with how they handled that case. … I just hope nothing like this happens to anyone else.”Contact Pete Fowler: 945-8515, ext. 16611 pfowler@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO


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