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Attorney: Oak Creek has no claim to files from Rodeman arrest

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— Oak Creek officials have the right to see only basic public information regarding the arrest of former Mayor Kathy "Cargo" Rodeman, the Town Board was informed by its attorney Monday.

The board asked lawyer Bob Weiss to explore whether police commissioners and other Town Board members were entitled to review "investigatory records, internal affairs files, and video and audio recordings of arrests and other police interactions with the public."

At a special meeting Monday, the board released a letter from Weiss saying that Police Chief Russ Caterinicchio has discretion over all information beyond what is open to the public under law. That additional information includes video and audio recordings, internal investigations and arrest reports, Weiss' letter stated.

Those materials are governed by the Criminal Justice Records Act in Colorado, the letter stated, and Oak Creek's policies are in line with those rules.

"The letter says that basically we don't have access to files in an ongoing investigation," Mayor J. Elliott said.

Oak Creek police Sgt. Erik Foster arrested Rodeman on July 19 after using a Taser on her. Rodeman has sent a letter to Caterinicchio and town officials to complain about the incident, but Caterinicchio said he could not address her complaint because it was too vague. He said Monday that he has finished his internal investigation and found that Foster acted appropriately.

Caterinicchio said he sent Rodeman a certified letter asking her to outline specific complaints against the Oak Creek Police Department. He told the board Monday that he received a notice that the letter arrived at its destination. Rodeman has 20 days to answer, he said.

If she specifies her complaints, Caterinicchio said he would ask a special investigator from the Steamboat Springs Police Department or Moffat County law enforcement to review the incident. Oak Creek would not incur any cost, the police chief said.

Town Board members had planned to discuss acquiring an outside investigator, but Caterinicchio's plan seemed to satisfy them.

"She has that long to respond, and we'll regroup," Elliott said. He described Rodeman's complaint as "nebulous" and said there was nothing firm to investigate at this point.

Rodeman was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and resisting arrest. During the arrest, Foster used a Taser on Rodeman, 54, who was in a house with two women.

Subsequent reports and the release of Foster's conversation with Routt County Communications dispatchers have led to questions.

Foster tried to stop Rodeman's vehicle after she failed to signal a right turn while driving home from the Colorado Bar, according to affidavits. Police say Rodeman sped to her residence and ran inside with passengers Tashena and Shoshanna Montoya. Authorities said the second woman sandwiched Foster between the house's door and its frame to prevent him from entering.

On the recording released by Routt County Communications, Rodeman can be heard pleading for mercy, saying "You stay right where you're at. Please don't tase us, please don't tase us. Our hands are up."

After Monday's meeting, Oak Creek resident Jen Coop said she was upset about the treatment of Rodeman.

"I think the whole Town Board, with the exception of J. Elliott, is trying to make light of the situation and listening to the Police Department," Coop said.

Other Oak Creek news

Also at Monday's meeting, the Town Board approved a special event permit for Oak Creek's Labor Day celebration.

The committee planning the event is looking for a person or group with a raffle license to offer bingo during the festivities, committee President Becky Wisecup said. The group is considering donating all or part of the bingo proceeds to charity, Wisecup said.

"We donate about one-third of what we make back each year, whether to charity or someone in need or the schools," committee Secretary-Treasurer Candy Johnson said. "We try to give back to South Routt."

Anyone interested in helping can contact Wisecup at 846-3340.

- To reach Blythe Terrell, call 871-4234 or e-mail bterrell@steamboatpilot.com

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