Arrest in shooting case spurs criticism of police conduct
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Guille Villa had trouble eating and sleeping for the two weeks her son was in jail as a suspected accomplice to a police officer shooting.
“I just think it’s not very professional how the police handled this case,” Villa said. “They didn’t have any proof against Mauricio.”
On Friday she described her view of the Aug. 9 arrest of her son, Mauricio Villa Garcia Pena, 20. He was released Thursday morning after prosecutors decided there wasn’t sufficient evidence to file charges against him. Guille Villa said she spoke with him after the release and that he was unavailable. She wouldn’t go into detail.
Her husband and son were getting ready to go to bed when the door was knocked down at their ranch in Silt. Several men with guns entered the house, some wearing masks.
“They were all pointing guns at us,” she said. “They didn’t even show us a warrant or anything. They didn’t even explain what they were doing to us.”
Villa, her husband and her 13- yearold son were handcuffed and told to go outside, Villa said.
According to Villa, she was wearing only undergarments and asked if she could put on some clothes, but was not allowed. She said law enforcement broke holes in one internal wall and one external wall in Garcia Pena’s apartment, on the second story of a separate building on the property.
Villa said they were told what the entry was about approximately two hours later. Authorities also wouldn’t loosen restraints that caused her hands to swell, and when those were finally adjusted, she said, she was shocked when someone threatened her not to run off because they had a dog that could chase her.
“It was very inappropriate,” she said. “It was ridiculous. We’re not criminals.”
She said the worst trouble Garcia Pena has ever been in was joy riding in a car that someone else had stolen. She thought authorities were unfairly targeting Hispanic kids who shave their heads and have been in some trouble.
“He’s been in a little trouble, but not like you have to be afraid of him,” she said.
Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario and 9th Judicial District Attorney Martin Beeson have said the searches and arrests were done legally and reasonably. They explain that when a warrant is issued for attempted first-degree murder of a police officer, authorities consider the entries extremely dangerous situations, which called for the “no knock” or “dynamic entry” type of responses known to involve some property damage.
Beeson said he would indefinitely oppose unsealing any of the related affidavits for search or arrest warrants at this time, citing an ongoing investigation and protecting the identity of witnesses. He also wouldn’t talk about details of the investigation or why law enforcement arrested who they did.
All Villa could gather about the reasoning behind the arrest was that Anthony Villegas and maybe some others in their teens or early 20s told police that her son was involved.