The Lake County, Colorado Sheriff, Ed Holte, has been feuding with the Leadville, Colo. Fire Department over who should be the first responder in the event of a medical emergency, according to a report in the Denver Post. The Lake County Prosecutor's office has charged one of Sheriff Holte's deputies with three counts of interfering in a medical emergency for cuffing and jailing a fire captain who responded to an emergency call for a Leadville woman who complained of neck pain from a domestic relations assault.
Prosecutor Mark Hurlbert said he has charged Deputy Steven James with first-degree official misconduct, obstructing a medical person and trespassing on public property, which is defined as keeping a public official from doing their duty. Each charge is a Class II misdemeanor . . . Additionally, Hurlbert chose to file no charges against Leadville Fire Capt. Dan Dailey.
On the evening of March 27 a Leadville woman drove to the sheriff's office to file an abuse complaint against her husband. While talking to James and Deputy Arin Hart, she complained of a neck injury. James had the sheriff's dispatcher in the next room issued an emergency call for an ambulance. But Fire Capt. Dailey was monitoring the radio and responded, as well as the ambulance. When he arrived with two other firefighters in the sheriff's office, James and Hart ordered the firefighters to leave. Dailey refused. So the deputies handcuffed him and put him in jail while the two other firefighters left. Police Chief Mike Leak arrived at the jail awhile later and removed Dailey from his cell.
Fire Chief Robert Harvey said later that Dailey had acted appropriately by responding to the emergency call. Leadville officials said there has been a two-year feud between the Sheriff Ed Holte and the fire department over who should be dispatched first to emergency calls. Holte believes the deputies should respond to most calls first to assess the situation, then call the fire department if needed. However, Mayor Bud Elliott accuses Holte of violating an agreement between the city of Leadville and Lake County over the choice of first responders.
Hurlbert sent investigators to Leadville shortly after the jailing and released his conclusions on Wednesday. 'Our primary concern was the safety of the public,' Hurlbert said. 'We felt the deputy kept the EMT (Dailey) from treating the person and that the EMT was merely doing his duty.'
Hurlbert said his office is continuing to investigate another incident last week in which Deputy John Ortega used a Taser stun gun on 30 high school students during a career fair at the school. Ortega, who was immediately suspended for one week without pay, said the students had asked him to Taser them and had given him permission. School officials said the students did not give their permission.
How are the citizens of Lake County, Colorado served by this sort of officially clownish conduct?