Alleged abuse victim testifies in defense of Smith, alleges police coercion | SkyHiNews.com

Alleged abuse victim testifies in defense of Smith, alleges police coercion

Third day of testimony in federal case of man suing Kremmling, officers

Denver — The woman who Kremmling resident Robert Mark Smith was alleged to have been violent towards, leading to his March 5, 2013 arrest, described Smith in court Wednesday as honest, nonviolent and well respected by the residents of the mobile home park he owns in Kremmling.

Wednesday marked the third day jurors heard testimony in the civil case that was initiated by Smith against the town of Kremmling, two of its police officers and chief of police.

READ MORE: Kremmling officers, plaintiff testify in excessive force lawsuit

The woman, whose name will not be reported by Sky-Hi News because she was an alleged victim of domestic abuse, testified in front of jurors, to open the day at Byron White U.S. District Courthouse in Denver, that she had known Smith for about six years and that they were involved in a romantic relationship for four years, ending about two years ago.

She admitted in her testimony that she was an alcoholic and was currently in jail for her third DUI. On the night in question, she had a blood alcohol content in excess of .40, beyond the legal limit.

The woman testified that on March 3, 2013, two days before Smith was allegedly assaulted by police, she had an altercation with Smith at his residence. She couldn't recall the nature of the argument, according to her testimony, but said she was inebriated and vandalized the inside of his home with a cane, which she was using after a hip surgery.

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She said Smith asked her to leave, and that the the two "tumbled down the stairs" on her way out. The woman said she sustained a wrist injury in the fall, but that Smith never hurt her.

The defense later played a voicemail for the jury that the woman had left with District Attorney Ashley Shelton stating that "[Smith] never hit me, he just dragged me by the hair."

The woman left several other voicemails saying that Smith didn't deserve charges, that he was assaulted by police and that her hair falls out when she brushes it. The dates and order of the voicemails unclear.

The woman rebutted that she felt she was coerced into saying certain things during phone calls with Shelton.

Two days later, the woman called a friend while inebriated because she was lonely while Smith was at work, she claimed. They discussed the events from the incident, but she told the court she never told her friend that Smith hurt her or had asked her to call the police.

On March 5, 2013, the Kremmling Police department received a call from the woman's friend requesting a welfare check, telling them that the woman was staying with Smith and that there had been an argument between the two.

Kremmling Police Officer Robert Dillon took the call from dispatch, and called the woman’s friend for more details. After the call, he suspected that domestic violence may have been involved, and put a call out for backup, according to Dillon’s previous testimony.

Smith alleges in the suit that members of the Kremmling Police Department, along with three members of the Grand County Sheriff's Office and a Colorado state trooper, entered his home in Kremmling illegally and used excessive force while arresting him on March 5, 2013.

Police were responding to a welfare check request on the woman, who was staying with Smith. They suspected that domestic abuse may be involved, according to Dillon.

Dillon, Wilson and Kremmling Police Chief Scott Spade are named as the defendants in the case, along with the town of Kremmling. Spade was not present on the night of the altercation, but was aware of the situation.

Trooper present for arrest testifies

Trooper Nathan Lyons was the first to respond to the call, meeting Dillon at a carwash close to Smith's house. During Lyons' testimony Wednesday, he said Dillon was still making calls when he got there and that Dillon explained the department had a history with Smith. 

Lyons read from a sworn affidavit he gave during an interview with Smith's attorneys in 2013. He said that while at the carwash Dillon told him, "we're going to go into that house and get that guy." He also said that Dillon was in a heightened sense of awareness and an agitated state when prompted with the affidavit.

The deputies from the Grand County Sheriff's Office arrived shortly after. Willson arrived as the other officers were dispersing the carwash. The officers positioned themselves around the house so they couldn't be seen, and Dillon knocked on Smith's door.

Dillon and Smith had a verbal altercation at the door, after which Dillon entered Smith's home without consent and a physical altercation began. Willson said that he entered the house and witnessed Dillon blocking punches from Smith. Smith maintained that Dillon initiated contact and that he had never resisted arrest.

Willson went on to explain to the court that Smith stopped, and reached backward toward a counter with dangerous items including a knife and boiling soup. He said he then attempted to Taser Smith, but the Taser failed to discharge properly. Grand County deputies then entered the house and subdued Smith, and Willson never used his Taser, according to Willson.

Disputes over details

What happened with the Taser has been one of the most disputed issues in the case.

Willson said only one of the two darts ejected, and that an electrical discharge never hit Smith. Smith contended that he was Tasered three times. Dillon said that he heard the pop of the Taser, but never heard an electrical discharge, and Lyons said he definitely heard the discharge of electricity.

No photos of Taser injuries were entered into evidence, but the woman staying with Smith said he showed her the injuries.

There is also great discrepancy over how long the incident lasted.

Smith said from the time Dillon instigated contact, to the time he was cuffed, took about a minute and a half. Willson said the entire conflict lasted 10 to 15 seconds.

Smith said officers used excessive force; testimony from Dillon indicated otherwise.

Lyons and Willson said Wednesday that they didn't see any excessive force.

Dillon and Lyons both claimed to find the woman in the next room. Lyons said she was asleep and he had to wake her, while Dillon said he found her awake. The woman said she was asleep and had to be woken up.

Lyons said he woke the woman, and immediately recognized that she was inebriated and confused with the situation. The woman agreed that she was drunk and confused.

What happened next is somewhat contested.

The woman said that she doesn't recall exactly what she said to Dillon or Lyons, but Dillon claimed that she told him that Smith had hurt her, and screamed when anyone touched her on the arms. He said he witnessed bruises on her arms. Others corroborated seeing bruises, but it is contested.

Dillon said she wrapped her arms around him before she left and whispered, "he hurt me." Willson said that he heard the woman shout the same. Lyons said he never heard the woman scream or shout at all.

The woman said she felt she may have been coerced by Dillon into saying something; Lyons said that he also felt she may have been coerced in some capacity due to her inebriated state.

The woman said that a restraining order was subsequently placed on Smith, but that she had never asked for one, that it was never necessary and that she asked for it to be removed, which it was.

The trial is expected to continue into next week.

Check back for continuing coverage of the trial, only at SkyHiNews.com.

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