Tasers at issue in two court cases
Aspen, CO ColoradoGLENWOOD SPRINGS A mother faces sentencing and her son is scheduled to go to trial in two cases that are testing what level of stun guns use by police is appropriate.Consuelo Pino, 57, of Lakewood, recently pleaded guilty to a reduced felony charge after a mistrial in a case involving her coming to her son’s defense when police used a Taser gun while arresting him. Pino kicked an officer in the groin during the incident Jan. 1 in Rifle.Dominic Pino, 35, of Rifle, is scheduled to go to trial in January on charges including second-degree assault on a peace officer; second-degree assault resulting in serious bodily injury, which stems from allegedly throwing his wife to the ground; and criminal mischief.Police arrested him on East Third Street in Rifle after an altercation in a bar. A Rifle police affidavit said the altercation reportedly arose because Dominic Pino was upset that a man was “picking up on his mother” and he sought to defend her honor. Dominic Pino allegedly broke a window in the bar.Lawson Wills, Consuelo Pino’s defense attorney, said her son was shot with a Taser gun 13 times during the arrest.Rifle police Sgt. Vaughn Miles wrote in a police affidavit that Dominic Pino is large and muscular, and struck him and pushed him to the ground during the arrest, while threatening to kill him – a threat Miles took seriously.”During this ground struggle especially, I feared for my life and briefly thought of my family as I worked to gain control,” Miles stated.Garfield County Sheriff’s Deputy Jesse Burris said in a statement that he was assisting in the arrest when Consuelo Pino began punching and kicking him. Miles said she also pulled and pushed on Burris’ arms.After Dominic Pino was under control, Burris handcuffed his mother and led her to a police vehicle, but when he tried to pat her down for weapons she “mulekicked” him in the groin, he said in the statement.Wills argued that Consuelo Pino was responding to excessive use of force in the arrest of her son.In a trial that was scheduled for three days but lasted for five, a jury was unable to come to verdicts on charges of assault and resisting arrest against Consuelo Pino. Wills said the jury found her guilty of assault but couldn’t answer the question of whether it occurred under the mitigating circumstance of heat of passion, which reduces the charge.WIlls said she and her family are worn out emotionally and financially by the case, and she decided to accept a guilty plea on a lesser charge rather than go through another trial.Consuelo Pino pleaded guilty to felony menacing. The charge carries a presumptive sentence of one to three years in prison, or as little as six months when there are extreme mitigating circumstances. However, prosecutors have agreed to recommend that she be sentenced to 90 days of county jail time, with it left up to the judge whether that might include the option of day reporting, home detention or other form of punishment other than straight jail.Wills said Consuelo, a grandmother with no criminal history, is being subjected to “very harsh treatment” for an action that resulted in no permanent injury to Burris.He also argued in the trial that Tasers shouldn’t be used in “controlled compliance” of arrestees, but for defensive use only. He contends Pino’s son was stunned with the gun eight to 10 times while he was under control.Miles said in his police statement that Consuelo Pino pulled his arm while he was holding the Taser in it, which may have freed her son from its effects and let him keep advancing toward Miles.Miles said Dominic Pino hit him in the chest, causing him to fall backward onto and over a park bench, which collapsed in the process. Pino also allegedly kicked another officer.Court files show Dominic Pino’s defense attorney, David Tyler of Dillon, has indicated he may argue that Pino was acting in self-defense and officers used unreasonable force.Police say that after leaving the bar, Pino also threw his wife to the ground when she and his mother were trying to keep him from going after the man at whom he was angry. She suffered a severely dislocated elbow. However, his wife later told authorities, “I believe he was falsely accused of this assault upon me.”She blamed it on a “simple misunderstanding” and called what her husband has been through “absolutely astonishing.”
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