Sheriff, challenger offer two sides of arrest story

Paramroop Khalsa

Write-in sheriff candidate Paramroop Khalsa and current Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario have about as much in common as yoga and football. Their stories as to what transpired regarding Khalsa’s arrest on Jan. 18 of this year also sound as similar as hip-hop and country music.

According to a warrantless arrest affidavit, dispatch was advised of a disturbance outside Carbondale that day where, allegedly, Khalsa, 60, “had threatened the reporting party with a handgun and was possibly headed into Carbondale to kill his wife.”

The reporting party further advised that Paramroop left in a neon green Kia Soul.”

That was all the information, at the time, a Garfield County Sheriff’s deputy had to go off of when he arrived at the intersection of Main and Second Street in Carbondale where additional law enforcement had already intercepted Khalsa, who according to the affidavit was uncooperative with their requests.

“This story opens for me at KDNK, the rad radio station in Carbondale,” Khalsa told the Post Independent on Wednesday.

Khalsa stated that, while taking a break from “working on collecting women’s music for his show that Saturday,” law enforcement approached him and asked if a neon green Kia Soul belonged to him and, after responding “yes,” the events that led to his arrest played out.

“It was decided to detain Paramroop for our safety based on the information we had about a possible firearm and his evasiveness to questions,” according to the affidavit.

Khalsa contends, however, that he surrendered to a personal frisk to assure law enforcement that he did not have a weapon on him.

“I never realized the disparage or just the wildness that goes on with 911 calls, and I understand the deputies have to be very cautious when they show up,” Khalsa stated. “Preposterous isn’t even the beginning of describing my reaction to such allegations.”

Both Khalsa and Vallario agreed on one thing: The reporting party who originally dialed 911, ultimately, ended up not being a credible source, and as a result the allegations were unfounded. The only thing Khalsa ended up being charged with was a class two misdemeanor for allegedly obstructing a peace officer.

“After interviewing the victim, there were quite honestly some credibility issues,” Vallario said. “We didn’t have enough to move forward with the felony menacing charges.”

Where the two disagree, however, goes back to how Khalsa felt he was treated.

“He was not treated brutally,” Vallario said, in reference to Khalsa’s claims in an Aug. 9 story about his candidacy that he believed the way he was handled by the law officers was “quite brutal.”

“The consequences were a result of his actions because he was obstructing a law enforcement investigation into what, at the time, we believed was a felony menacing case where a gun was involved,” Vallario said. “We were acting on a serious allegation … and our expectation is that people cooperate and help us work through that investigation and not obstruct.”

Khalsa countered, “but they have no reason to arrest me, that’s the problem.”

According to Khalsa, he was offered a plea deal for what he was ultimately charged with — obstructing a peace officer. However, he vehemently declined it and told the Post Independent that the person who called 911 in the first place has since apologized to him.

“My rights were totally taken away,” Khalsa said.

Vallario countered, “Just because there were no other charges after we were able to investigate and determine what did or didn’t happen, that still doesn’t mean you should resist or obstruct.”

Vallario is running for a fifth, four-year term as a Republican for Garfield County Sheriff. Khalsa did not go through the Democratic Party nomination process and missed the deadline to petition onto the Nov. 6 ballot. But he has since gone through the formal process to be an official Democratic write-in candidate for the office.

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