Rodeman's license suspension overturned

Department of Revenue rules police had no right to enter home

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— A Colorado Department of Revenue hearing officer dismissed the one-year suspension of former Oak Creek Mayor Kathy "Cargo" Rodeman's driver's license Wednesday. As a result, Rodeman retains her driving privileges despite failing a Breathalyzer test the night of her controversial arrest.

Steamboat Springs attorney Kris Hammond, who represents Rodeman, said the Department of Revenue hearing officer ruled that Oak Creek Police Sgt. Erik Foster had no right to enter Rodeman's home to arrest her. A message left with the Department of Revenue was not returned Wednesday afternoon, and no written ruling had been issued.

The Department of Revenue hearing was conducted via telephone and began Tuesday. Foster testified during the hearing and was subjected to a one-hour cross-examination by Hammond. The hearing officer continued the case to Wednesday, but instead of continuing with the cross-examination, Hammond said, the hearing officer announced the dismissal.

The ruling has no official bearing on Rodeman's upcoming criminal case, in which she faces charges of driving under the influence, resisting arrest and obstructing a peace officer. She is scheduled to enter a plea Oct. 1.

Rodeman was arrested July 19 after Foster said she failed to use her car's turn signal and then eluded officers by fleeing from her car into her house. Foster then entered the home, where he used a Taser to subdue and arrest Rodeman. Rodeman subsequently failed a Breathalyzer, triggering the automatic suspension of her license.

Rodeman and Hammond appealed the license suspension on grounds that Foster's warrantless entry was unlawful.

Oak Creek Police Chief Russ Caterinicchio said he did not know the details of Wednesday's ruling.

"My understanding is there was a dismissal," Caterinicchio said. "I don't know any other details."

Caterinicchio, who defended Foster's actions in the aftermath of Rodeman's arrest, emphasized that the Department of Revenue's ruling is separate from any criminal proceedings against Rodeman.

Hammond is optimistic the Department of Revenue ruling is a precursor to what will transpire in his client's criminal court case.

"We're obviously very happy with today's ruling," Hammond said. "We would hope that Judge (James) Garrecht will see the law the same way the hearing officer did."

Comments

Scott Wedel 6 years, 3 months ago

Note that it was Erik Foster's testimony (since he was the only one that testified) that convinced the hearing officer that he had no legal right to enter Cargo's house to arrest her or perform a BAC.

That same testimony would presumably be introduced at her criminal trial and expected to get the same result from the judge.

As I have previously posted, US Supreme Court has made it clear that warrantless entry for hot pursuit must be if there is PROBABLE CAUSE that a crime with jail as a punishment was committed. Failing to signal is just a ticket. Cargo was also charged with eluding police, but driving a block and a half to your house is hardly an attempt to lose the police.

And in his testimony, Erik even acknowledged forcible entry without knocking and announcing "Police" which US Supreme Court has made it clear is only allowable in the most serious circumstances in which knocking and announcing would clearly cause harm (allowing occupants to destroy evidence known to be inside or to arrest a violent person known to be armed). There is no suggestion by anyone that any of those circumstances existed in this arrest.

Personally, I would expect once DA gets a transcript of Erik's testimony that the DA will then drop the charges. The DA cannot try to improve their chances by discrediting Erik's testimony. Erik's testimony is the DA's case and now Erik's testimony also clearly shows he did an illegal arrest.

And with the Chief and Erik apparently still ignorant on the law regarding warrantless entry of a person's home, I think they are once again creating evidence for Cargo in her civil case against the OCPD and the Town. The OCPD has had all this go on and they still have not talked to a lawyer about when a warrantless entry is legal???

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