Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters speaks in front of the Mesa County Justice Center in Grand Junction on Jan. 13, 2022. (Sharon Sullivan for Colorado Newsline)
Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters resisted arrest and obstructed police officers as they helped carry out a search warrant for her iPad on Tuesday, according to the arrest affidavit from the Grand Junction Police Department.
Police officers confronted Peters at a local bagel shop on Tuesday morning with a warrant to seize an iPad that Peters allegedly used to record court proceedings on Monday.
When officers approached the Republican county clerk, she resisted and tried to strike an officer.
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“As she was being placed in handcuffs, Officer Tafoya repeatedly told her to not resist. As I was attempting to double lock the handcuffs, Officer Tafoya was attempting to get a car key/fob out of the suspect’s right hand. At this point the suspect attempted to kick back with her right leg to strike Officer Tafoya. She missed Officer Tafoya’s body but did contact Officer Tafoya’s Taser and magazine pouch which were located on Officer Tafoya’s belt,” the arrest affidavit signed by Officer Vaughn Soderquist reads.
Peters continued to resist as officers led her out of the bagel shop and towards the patrol car, at one point going “limp” in an attempt to prevent the officers from moving her.
Soderquist wrote that once Peters was out of view of customers and recording cell phones, she calmed down and asked if Soderquist was “assisting” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and talked about “something pertaining to the election” as Soderquist closed the patrol car door.
When Peters was released from the patrol car, she denied that the seized iPad is her property, insisting that it belongs to a “Tammy Bailey.” Peters was eventually released.
While police were originally present to execute the search warrant, not arrest Peters, an arrest warrant for obstructing a peace officer was issued on Feb. 9 with a $500 bond.
District attorney investigators wanted the iPad that Peters allegedly used to record a court hearing in Deputy Clerk Belinda Knisley’s criminal case on Feb. 7. Peters denied that she recorded any proceedings, but someone present observed her holding the iPad “in such a manner as to point the rear-facing camera toward the podium as if recording” Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubenstein, according to the search warrant. Investigators want to search and review data on the iPad to see if anything was recorded.
Knisley was charged in August with felony burglary and a misdemeanor cyber crime.
The Tina Peters Legal Defense Fund, a group formed to help Peters with her various legal troubles, said in a statement that they contest the allegations made in the affidavit.
“The team of officers procured the iPad listed in the search warrant and then attempted to seize items from Clerk Peters not listed in the warrant, specifically her car keys. The warrant specifically did not permit the search of her vehicle unless it was to locate the iPad which had already been turned over at that point. Officers illegally wrestled Clerk Peters’s personal property away from her, causing bruises and contusions,” the statement reads.
Separately, Peters is also under a grand jury investigation from state and local officials over her conduct prior to an update of the county’s election system software. Peters allegedly allowed an unauthorized person into the room during that update, a breach of security protocol that resulted in sensitive information about the systems being posted online.
Peters was barred from overseeing the 2021 coordinated election and the secretary of state is seeking a similar restriction for the 2022 elections. Additionally, Peters is facing ethics and campaign finance complaints.
She intends to run for reelection this year.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 11:50 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 10 to include comments from the Tina Peters Legal Defense Fund.Peters Affidavit_Redacted
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