Wrongfully arrested Rifle woman quiet about whether she’ll sue | AspenTimes.com

Wrongfully arrested Rifle woman quiet about whether she’ll sue

Pete Fowler
Glenwod Springs correspondent
Aspen CO, Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Danielle Marie Trujillo received a hand-delivered check for $1,510 on Friday evening after prosecutors admitted police arrested the wrong woman in connection with a drug ring.

It was better than nothing, but Trujillo said she’s still upset.

“I think they’re just trying to cover their ass, because I’ve never heard of them going to a person’s house and giving someone a check,” she said.

The arrest came from an apparent case of mistaken identity. Trujillo, a stay-at-home mom, said she was arrested at her home in Rifle on April 17 in front of her 2-year-old daughter. The Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team (TRIDENT) gave a photo of the actual suspect, Danielle May Trujillo, to the local media. Danielle May is a smaller, Latino woman. Danielle Marie has much lighter skin and looks completely different.

Newspapers published the photos and information from a news release saying over 30 suspects were part of a mid-level drug trafficking organization called “The Boys.”

Several suspects and attorneys have said many of the suspects have little or no connection to an organized drug ring and accused TRIDENT of blowing the arrests out of proportion.

“They came and arrested me and supposedly had all this information, and now they don’t have nothing,” Trujillo said Friday. “It’s ridiculous.”

Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario said a warrant was issued for the correct suspect, and either TRIDENT or an officer from a local agency failed to properly confirm they had the right Trujillo.

“It’s up to that individual officer,” Vallario said. “I think that’s where the slip-up was.”

He said authorities will look into who made the arrest and how the identities were mistaken.

Trujillo said law enforcement that arrested her included one officer from Vail, one Silt officer, one from Rifle and two from Glenwood Springs. They arrived with a photograph of the other Trujillo, who obviously isn’t her, but arrested her anyway, she said.

“They said, ‘This is the address we have, you’re not getting out of this,'” Trujillo said.

Prosecutors said TRIDENT had the wrong woman and dismissed the charges Thursday. They said a warrant still was out for the other Trujillo. Public defender Jim Conway said his office never received Trujillo’s police reports within 20 days, as required.

“It’s just an outrage that an innocent person was arrested and accused of a felony crime,” he said.

TRIDENT is a multi-jurisdictional drug task force that gets federal, state and local funding, including from Glenwood Springs, Rifle, Carbondale, Vail and Garfield County.

“I’m pretty upset right now. I think that they’re a joke,” Trujillo said. “If they did their job right, which the taxpayers are paying for them to do, then they shouldn’t have had me arrested at all.”

Trujillo paid a $1,500 fee to post $10,000 bond after spending two days and a night in jail. She said her mother and housemate had to take time off work to watch her daughter.

“[Deputy District Attorney Tony] Hershey, he looked over at me and he said he was sorry,” she said. “That’s all I got. I didn’t get any explanation of how they came to arrest me.”

Trujillo said the company she paid to bond her out told her she’d have to pursue getting the fee on bond back through small claims court. Now she’s got the check, but still worries the arrest will be on her record.

Trujillo left the question of whether she’d sue over the wrongful arrest open to interpretation, declining to say yes or no.

“What would a person in my situation do?” she said.