Routt County Sheriff Gary Wall

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Routt County Sheriff Gary Wall

Sheriff Wall's license suspended

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— Routt County Sheriff Gary Wall has lost his driver's license for one year, the Colorado Department of Revenue confirmed Thursday.

Wall had a telephone hearing with the Department of Revenue on Wednesday to consider his appeal of a revocation handed down by the Colorado State Patrol after Wall refused to take a Breathalyzer test Oct. 27 when Trooper Brett Hilling cited him for driving under the influence near U.S. Highway 40 and Walton Creek Road.

Department of Revenue hearing officer Art Julian heard the case, which will have no official bearing on a criminal trial, but may be referenced by prosecutors.

"(Wall) states that he refused because he believed the troopers did not have probable cause to require the test," Julian wrote in his decision and order. "I have found that the troopers did have probable cause to require testing. The revocation : is sustained."

Julian wrote that he reached his conclusion by a preponderance of the evidence, which included Hilling's report and other written testimony including witness statements.

"The officer had probable cause to require testing due to (Wall) having the odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath, red and glassy eyes, (and) being unsteady on his feet when exiting the vehicle," Julian wrote under his findings of fact.

Also under his findings of fact, Julian wrote that Wall told Hilling, "We are not going there," when he was asked to submit to a chemical breath test.

Trooper Melissa Fowler initially pulled Wall over in his county vehicle for an alleged failure to dim his headlights as he approached the intersection of U.S. Highway 40 and Walton Creek Road while returning from a Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association celebration at Sidney Peak Ranch. Wall claimed that Fowler had insufficient grounds to pull him over, arguing in part that "it would have been impossible for the trooper to distinguish 'high beams' from those of the powerful overhead street lights" at "one of the best lit intersections in Steamboat Springs." Julian dismissed that argument.

"The plain experience of any driver is that, even in well lit intersections, it is easy to distinguish the high beams of an approaching vehicle," he wrote.

Several witnesses submitted statements on behalf of Wall, according to Julian's report, including Jenny Wilson, Wall's girlfriend and passenger at the time of the traffic stop, and Steamboat Springs City Clerk Julie Jordan.

The statements claim that Wall had, at most, one glass of wine and that he exhibited no symptoms of intoxication, according to the report.

Julian, however, found the State Patrol's reports more credible.

"The hearing officer first notes that all of the statements are remarkably similar in language and content, nearly verbatim in some cases," Julian wrote. "The similarity of the language diminishes the credibility of the content."

Julian's report notes another of Wall's arguments that the traffic stop "was the result of a conspiracy of the area law enforcement community to charge him with DUI, and that there was a 'bounty on his head.'" Julian, however, described Hilling's conduct as "exemplary" and wrote that Wall's own testimony discredits the conspiracy claims. Julian noted that Hilling "made every attempt to mitigate any potential humiliation of" Wall, through such steps as asking Sheriff's Office deputies on scene to disperse before he removed Wall from his vehicle.

"This meticulousness, courtesy and respect are in total contradiction to the conduct expected of someone who is perpetrating a false arrest born of malicious intent to discredit (Wall)," Julian wrote.

Wall is set to appear Jan. 16 in Routt County Court on his DUI and prohibited use of a weapon charges. John Kammerzell, director of the state's Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, said the revocation won't affect Wall's ability to continue serving as the county's top law enforcement officer.

"It has no effect on his peace officer certification," Kammerzell said Thursday. "POST has no standing in this situation."

Kammerzell said Wall renewed his POST certification in November. He also said DUI is not one of the misdemeanors that can compromise one's peace officer certification.

Kammerzell said he is aware of other officers who have also lost their driving privileges. In most cases, Kammerzell said those officers are assigned to strictly administrative duties.

Although Wall was issued an affidavit and notice of driver's license revocation the night of the traffic stop, he disputed the revocation and was granted a 60-day temporary license and Wednesday's telephone hearing.

In addition to DUI and failing to dim his headlights, Wall has been charged with prohibited use of a weapon because it is illegal to possess a weapon when under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Wall was not taken to jail as a result of the charges, and an unidentified Sheriff's Office employee drove him and Wilson home after the traffic stop. There was a request to subpoena Sheriff's Office Dep. Lance Eldridge for Wednesday's Department of Revenue hearing, but Julian denied the request.

The weapons charge and the DUI charge are Class 1 misdemeanors that carry a minimum sentence of six months imprisonment or a $500 fine, or both. The maximum sentences are 18 months imprisonment or a $5,000 fine, or both. Also, if convicted of DUI in a criminal trial, Wall would face an additional one-year suspension of his license.

Wall did not return messages left on his work and cell phones Thursday. His lawyer, Steamboat attorney Ron Smith, would not confirm or deny that Wall's license had been revoked.

"I'm not going to discuss Gary's case," Smith said.

Wall's criminal case was continued in Routt County Court last month. Judge James Garrecht told Wall, Smith and special prosecutor Karen Romeo that he will recuse himself from the case when it moves forward because of the court's close working relationship with the Routt County Sheriff's Office.

The 14th Judicial District also recused itself from the case to avoid the same perceived conflict of interest, which is why Romeo, assistant district attorney for the Fifth Judicial District, was appointed special prosecutor.

Romeo has said that a plea bargain with Wall is still possible. She said her investigation of the case is wrapping up soon and that she will begin negotiating with Smith after the New Year.

Comments

bubba 6 years, 4 months ago

Wasn't there a movie where the sheriff had to take a taxi to crime scenes?

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 4 months ago

Bubba- I believe that was "Doc Hollywood" with Michael J. Fox.

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CoJustice 6 years, 4 months ago

Little surprised that the Department of Revenue upheld the law on this one.

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weallnutz 6 years, 4 months ago

Moffat county is celebrating, they already got the DARE vehicle because it wasn't being used, now they can have the Sherriff's Vehicle as well!

Hey does the Sherriff's budget have an account listed "Chauffeur?" No he'll just call Alpine Taxi's Limo the booze is already in back.

Next time the S.O. has an help wanted add in the Steamboat Pilot I wonder if it will still list "Valid driver's license" as a basic requirement for the job. That would be against the S.O.'s policies....oh never mind, we don't need no stupid policies.

Hey good business idea....open a bar within walking distance of the S.O.!!!!

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 4 months ago

Liquor store is a across the street, as a couple of outside-duty inmates found out a couple years ago. LOL! It's usually cheaper than paying for booze at a bar.

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otis 6 years, 4 months ago

Conspiracy theory? What a joke. I think any reasonable person knows that if he wasn't drunk he would have taken the roadside sobriety test. It's beyond obvious. The excuse of high beams not being distinguished in street lights is a stretch to say the least. How stupid do you think we are? At least Julian could see through the bull muck. What a great example from our highest law enforcement officer in the County.

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mud 6 years, 4 months ago

Is there a policy against officers displaying a badge, weapon and glass of wine all at the same time?

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grannyrett 6 years, 4 months ago

conspiracy theory?-Let's all take a trip to Roswell, N.M. Now, there is a real conspiracy theory! LOL

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Oscar 6 years, 4 months ago

Hopefully this time when the recall petition comes around, signers will know enough to list their actual physical address instead of their POB. Routt County deserves what they voted for in this guy. We voted for a softer, gentler sheriff and now those who voted for him know why he is softer and gentler. Time to get back to REAL law enforcement like we had before.

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dimwitiguess 6 years, 4 months ago

Oscar,

Does that mean you will take up the petition movement or are you just saying that so someone will do your dirty work for you? Hey, do what you want, but I won't give any money to your (probably someone else's) petition because you seem like a yeller and not a doer. Get out there and walk the streets and sit in front of Central Park Liquor this time of year. No, I don't think anyone will put the time or energy into it because they know they don't have the stamina and the weather isn't the kind where you'll sit in a parking lot all day for drive through signatures.

Wall has had his bell rung and was given a huge wake-up call. It just shows you that almost everyone has driven while under the influence and some still do it (even Pilot employees, and some Pilot employees are even former felons). That's one institution that has to look around for someone who can writie an article without being accused of righteous indignation.

Gary Wall should begin steps to show he admits his mistake and use his woes to begin to show what a big problem driving under the influence is. Time to give up "the story" and tell the "true story" which may really benefit someone.

My comment is middle of the road, but what would you expect from a dimwitiguess.

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CoJustice 6 years, 4 months ago

I would like to see additional details as to the new County budget recently completed and the final decision on liability insurance and personal vehicle use with the Sheriffs Office. Someone is going to fund this, I hope its not the other employees.

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Malcolm_Reynolds 6 years, 4 months ago

Just remember Steamboat Springs precincts are the ones that voted Wall as the Sheriff. Not the rest of the County.

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inmate2007 6 years, 4 months ago

Why isn't anyone congratulating Wall on passing his POST test?

"" John Kammerzell, director of the state's Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, said the revocation won't affect Wall's ability to continue serving as the county's top law enforcement officer.

"It has no effect on his peace officer certification," Kammerzell said Thursday. "POST has no standing in this situation."

Kammerzell said Wall renewed his POST certification in November. He also said DUI is not one of the misdemeanors that can compromise one's peace officer certification.

Kammerzell said he is aware of other officers who have also lost their driving privileges.""

It seems even a drunk can qualify to be a officer of the law..........

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DavidFerguson 6 years, 4 months ago

While I have supported Sherriff Wall from the beginning, I do not see how a sheriff can effectively serve the community if he cannot legally drive. It's time to resign Gary.

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fed10 6 years, 4 months ago

How about having your weapon with you while you are DUI, thats setting the standard high. What ever happened to Lead by Example. Suffer the consequences of your actions. Afterall isnt being a peace officer about integerity, to acuse the troopers of a manhunt is ridicoulus and absurd. Wall cant accept the fact that he was wrong and admit it. This is great for Routt county and the citizens.

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drakek 6 years, 4 months ago

Just out of courisity. who is going to drive this yahoo around so he can do his job?? And will the county of city of Steamboat be picking up the tab on limo services? Sounds like a "Dukes of Hazzard movie".

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portagetheyampa 6 years, 4 months ago

Dukes of Hazzard was dreamed up by some clever writers! And WAll doesn'et even need that, he is the'real stuff," a total comedy of himself. Thanks to his supporter who urged Wall to resign. We all need to to the same and get this man out of Routt County . The good news is he can't drive, legally. But this man doesn't apply "legally" to himself.

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