Rodeman charges dropped
Former Oak Creek mayor plans civil suit against town
October 1, 2008
Steamboat Springs — The District Attorney’s Office dropped all charges Wednesday against former Oak Creek mayor Kathy “Cargo” Rodeman, who was arrested July 19 in an incident that eventually led to her being stunned with a Taser in her home.
County Court Judge James Garrecht accepted motions filed by the District Attorney’s Office early Wednesday morning to dismiss all charges against Rodeman and her co-defendants.
But it doesn’t appear the matter is over. Kris Hammond, Rodeman’s attorney, said he plans to file a civil lawsuit against the town and possibly the Oak Creek Police Department’s former officers.
Former Oak Creek Police Sgt. Erik Foster arrested Rodeman, 54, after he said she failed to use a turn signal and then fled from police. Police alleged Rodeman ran into her home, which Foster entered before using a Taser to subdue and arrest her on suspicion of misdemeanor charges of eluding police, obstructing a police officer, resisting arrest, driving under the influence of alcohol and driving under the influence per se, as well as a traffic infraction of failure to signal.
Foster resigned, along with Oak Creek police Chief Russ Caterinicchio on Sept. 11.
“I know the community gave us their blessing today, but the real sigh of relief was when (Foster and Caterinicchio) left town,” Rodeman said after leaving the courthouse Wednesday. “Since they resigned, the air in town is easier to breathe.”
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Charges also were dropped Wednesday against Rodeman’s two co-defendants. Shoshanna Montoya, 28, was arrested July 19 on suspicion of third-degree assault and obstructing a police officer, for allegedly trying to prevent Foster from entering Rodeman’s home. Tashena Montoya, 27, was cited for obstructing a police officer and possession of drug paraphernalia.
During a Sept. 10 hearing, a Colorado Department of Revenue hearing officer dismissed the driver’s license suspension Rodeman faced after failing a Breathlyzer test on the night of her arrest. Rodeman and Hammond had appealed the suspension on the grounds that Foster’s warrantless entry into Rodeman’s home was unlawful.
The same allegation helped derail the District Attorney’s criminal case against Rodeman. Prosecutors doubted they would have been able to prevail, Garrecht said.
If Rodeman’s case proceeded beyond her first appearance, the defense would have challenged the legality of Foster’s entry into the home, searches of Rodeman’s home and car, and the use of a Taser, Hammond said.
“The motions they anticipated would have gutted their case,” Hammond said.
Rodeman stated her intention Wednesday to file a civil suit against the town of Oak Creek, seeking unspecified damages for allegations of excessive force, illegal entry and illegal searches.
No lawsuits have been filed, Hammond said, although he and Rodeman indicated they plan to proceed quickly. By law, the town must be notified of her intent to sue within 180 days of the incident.
Mayor J. Elliott said he was unable to comment on the matter Wednesday, in the absence of any legal notice of such a lawsuit.
While seeking damages would help pay for the women’s legal fees, Rodeman said her primary motivation is to prevent Foster and Caterinicchio from gaining employment with other police departments.
“It’s like if you’ve got some horrid disease, and obviously you want to get rid of your disease, but don’t want to give your disease to the town down the street,” Rodeman said.
“Without these guys facing any consequences for what they did, they’ll just go somewhere else,” she said.
In August, the Oak Creek Town Board called for an independent investigation into Rodeman’s arrest and Caterinicchio’s subsequent internal review that supported Foster’s actions. The external review since has been called off, as the officers involved are no longer town employees, Trustee and Police Commissioner Dave Ege said.
The Town Board “absolutely failed” in its oversight capacity by not delving deeper into the multitude of complaints about its former police officers, Rodeman said.
“Why they put (Caterinicchio) in charge of an investigation of his own guy, I’ll never understand,” Rodeman said.