Officers cope with disburbances at the Grand County Jail
November 24, 2008
One would think that being arrested and taken to jail would have a sobering effect on a person’s behavior, but that’s not always the case as a couple of incidents demonstrated at the Grand County Jail in Hot Sulphur Springs, Colorado.
About a half hour after midnight on Sunday, Nov. 16, the first incident occurred after Officer Sean Curran of the Fraser-Winter Park Police brought in 20-year-old Heather A. Nelson to be booked in on a DUI charge.
According to a written report by Deputy Dan Gorton who was on duty at the time, Nelson was ordered to submit to a standard “pat-down search” during the booking. These searches are conducted to ensure that suspects being incarcerated do not have weapons or other contraband on their persons.
Detention Officer Kyndra Gore, the only female officer on duty at the time, was the one designated to do the pat-down, but Nelson immediately refused and yelled profanities at her. Deputy Gorton then stepped in and physically restrained Nelson’s wrists to the booking room table while Gore began the pat-down, but Nelson kicked and thrashed so much that it was impossible for Gore to complete the search.
Rather than continue to struggle with her, Officer Gore told Nelson that she would now be required to change into a jail uniform. Initially, Nelson refused, but then finally allowed herself to be escorted by Gore toward an adjacent changing room.
However, before entering the changing room, Nelson attempted to take off her shirt. Gore tried to stop her by pulling down on the shirt, but Nelson pulled away from her so violently that it jerked Gore’s left arm and shoulder, injuring her. Nelson then broke free and reportedly balled up her fist up if she were going to strike the officer, but then Officer Curran and Deputy Gorton stepped in to stop her.
The two officers then ordered Nelson to cease resisting and place her hands on the wall. She again refused, forcing Deputy Gorton to grab her wrist. She continued to resist, thrashing around and refusing to obey orders. Finally, Gorton physically took her to the floor in a no-strike straight-arm takedown and placed her back in handcuffs.
Nelson was then escorted to a jail cell by both Gorton and Curran. About an hour later, she agreed to comply with instructions and change into a jail uniform.
While that incident was successfully handled, another one occurred just hours later. About 5:30 a.m., Sgt. Neal McQuarie was contacted by Grand County Dispatch to ask him for assistance in handling another unruly prisoner at the jail.
Arriving there, Sgt. McQuarie was informed that 29-year-old Stephen Branstetter, who had been arrested earlier that evening, was now banging his head against the window of his holding cell and throwing wet paper towels against the window.
Because of this behavior, detention officers were requesting McQuaire’s assistance in placing him in a restraining chair.
Through the window of the holding cell, Sgt. McQuarie could see Branstetter standing on the bench inside the cell where he was yelling and banging his head on the window. The window was partially covered with wet bathroom tissue.
Accompanied by Lt. Jim Campbell, Sgt. McQuarie went to the cell and ordered Branstetter to get down on his knees and face way from the door. He told the prisoner that if he did not comply he was prepared to use an electric control shield to subdue him.
Branstetter complied. Campbell and McQuarie then entered the cell and placed the prisoner in the restraint chair. Branstetter continued to yell and thrash in the chair for several minutes but eventually calmed down. He was later released from the chair and voluntarily agreed to clean up the holding cell.