DA reviewing investigation into KPD Chief Lucas; Kremmling in limbo
It could be up to four weeks before a decision is made whether to take action in the investigation of Kremmling Police Chief Jamie Lucas’ handling of an animal cruelty case, said the 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
District Attorney Matt Karzen said his office is reviewing the investigation of Lucas conducted by the Fraser Winter Park Police Department, and his office is working on a one to four week timeline.
“I think it’s going to be closer to the two week range, but then we’ll be in a position to make a decision, what if anything, we should do moving forward,” Karzen said.
The DA’s office initiated an investigation of Lucas after receiving concerns from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office that Lucas cited three juveniles into municipal court “for what appears to be a felony animal cruelty incident that occurred outside KPD’s jurisdiction.” Lucas did not return requests for comment.
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In December, Kremmling Town Council put Lucas on paid administrative leave after the town received a letter from the DA’s office saying the office could no longer accept criminal cases from Chief Lucas, nor any cases that involve him in an investigative capacity.
Kremmling Town Council was clear its decision to pull Lucas off the job for the time being doesn’t reflect a lack of faith in him as council members voiced a desire to fight the DA’s decision.
“My take from the meeting is that, until we know anything else, we are in support (of Lucas) and the ultimate goal would be to have him return to work,” Stoltman said.
Aside from placing Lucas on leave, the town has not any taken action because, Stoltman explained, they are waiting for the DA’s final decision.
“We can’t really do anything until the outcome of the investigation is completed and looked through by the DA’s office,” Stoltman said. “Once we have the outcome, we’ll evaluate that and go from there, but I think we’re in a kind of holding pattern until that time.”
The investigation stems from Lucas’ alleged mishandling of a report of animal abuse, in which three juveniles were accused of mutilating and shooting a feral cat on a property outside town limits in October.
The incident was reportedly caught on a video that was shared at West Grand High School before a tipster alerted authorities on Nov. 4. Chief Lucas previously said he handled the animal abuse investigation by charging the juveniles with disturbing the peace and fining them $500 through Kremmling’s municipal court system without filing a police report.
According to a statement from the DA’s office, Lucas originally cited the juveniles for violating a Kremmling ordinance, despite the listed address for the offense being outside of town limits and beyond the jurisdiction of the Kremmling Municipal Court.
The statement added that, after the Grand County Sheriff’s Office brought its concerns about the jurisdiction to Lucas, he “amended the location of the offense on the citations he had issued to an address inside his jurisdiction.”
Kremmling Municipal Court Judge Ron Carlson, who had not seen the defendants in court, said that if he received a summons with an address listed outside his jurisdiction, he would not be able to prosecute it.
“I would probably have to dismiss it,” Carlson said. “(Jurisdiction) doesn’t mean a person’s residence, but it means where the event happened. You always have to establish venue and jurisdiction.”
Karzen said that, in his career, he has not seen another potential felony investigation without a police report. Without a report, a court may have to dismiss the charges.
“I would have to spend more taxpayer money to duplicate the work the police officer did by another investigator to get it documented,” Karzen said of prosecuting any case without a police report. “Or there’s just dismissing the case and writing a letter of declination to prosecute and making it crystal clear it’s because an officer refused to document the details of their investigation in any way.”
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