A felony charge of menacing was formally filed Monday in Pitkin County District Court against a man who police say steered his truck toward an Aspen parking officer.
Leandro Vincente Contreras, 37, of Aspen, also was told by District Judge Gail Nichols that he faces a misdemeanor count of reckless driving. She suggested that he hire an attorney.
In an arrest affidavit, Aspen policeman Ian MacAyeal wrote that late in the morning of Feb. 13, he overheard on the police radio that a city parking enforcement officer almost was hit by a car.
MacAyeal went to the corner of South Spring Street and East Hopkins Avenue and met the parking officer, Tom O’Keefe, who said that he had written a parking ticket earlier for a black Toyota truck parked in the 600 block of East Hopkins.
O’Keefe reported that after writing the ticket, he went about his duties, and less than 10 minutes later, he was standing in the 200 block of South Spring, the truck was coming at him, according to MacAyeal.
“As the truck approached, he saw the driver was staring at him with an ‘angry look on his face,’” MacAyeal wrote. “The driver then suddenly veered to the right and steered his truck toward O’Keefe. O’Keefe moved back, thinking the truck was going to hit him.”
O’Keefe told the police officer that the passenger-side mirror of the truck came within 6 inches of his face, the affidavit states.
“O’Keefe said he was in fear of his life and/or serious bodily injury had he been struck by the side mirror or the truck itself,” MacAyeal wrote. “He believed the driver veered toward him intentionally.”
Following a check of the truck’s license-plate number, MacAyeal recognized the name of its owner, the affidavit says. MacAyeal said that he “immediately recalled a case in which Contreras was arrested for attacking a parking officer.”
Contreras, who is described in court records as a personal trainer, was arrested on Feb. 1, 2013, by Aspen police on suspicion of shaking a city parking officer and throwing him to the ground. However, in that incident, the parking officer had not written a ticket; Contreras, according to police, mistakenly thought the officer had affixed a large orange sticker to the window of his vehicle. The sticker actually had been placed on the vehicle by someone affiliated with a private parking lot.
Court records show that he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment on Aug. 6. He was sentenced to six months probation and ordered to pay a fine and attend eight hours of anger-management classes.
As for the newest matter, MacAyeal wrote that he went to Contreras’ workplace and Contreras denied intentionally trying to hit the parking officer as he was driving. However, believing he had probable cause, MacAyeal arrested Contreras.
Contreras is scheduled to appear in court again on March 17.
In other local court business this week:
Pitkin County Court Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely abruptly brought a halt to an advisement proceeding Wednesday after a man in custody of the jail became unruly. Scott Hunter Kuhn, 33, laughed during the hearing that stemmed from his failure to appear in court on Feb. 25. He lashed out at Deputy District Attorney Jason Slothouber after Slothouber remarked that Kuhn “has been living fast and dangerous for the last year and a half.” He interrupted both Fernandez-Ely and Slothouber in open court, saying he was the victim of “harassment.” As deputies began to lead Kuhn out of the courtroom, he shouted toward Slothouber, “Get your facts straight!” The remark was followed by an expletive.
Kuhn, said to be a former partner in the Aspen nightclub Bootsy Bellows, has a string of legal troubles dating back to Dec. 18, 2012, when he was arrested by Aspen police on suspicion of DUI following an accident.