A Low Blow

Jeffco's finest haven't solved Stephanie Hart Grizzell's murder -- but they did arrest her grieving mom for interfering with police.

Grizzell, who'd gone to a relative's house, called one of the officers later that evening. She was told to report to the jail in Golden. "They said, 'You need to turn yourself in. If you don't, we'll go to your work and arrest you on Monday,'" she recalls. "I couldn't believe it. I work at a bank. I didn't want them to come arrest me there."

She showed up at the jail at three in the morning and was handcuffed and booked. Grizzell concedes that she was "being mouthy" during the booking process and resisted orders to sit down. Police reports indicate that she called one officer a coward, another a "fat fuck." Although officers claim she kicked one of them in the calf, Grizzell maintains that she was the one who was kicked. Her court file includes photos of the bruises she received that night on her arm, wrist and thigh.

"I wouldn't sit down," she says. "They grabbed my arm and sat me down. I can see why they did that. But there were four or five officers who took me to another room and threw me on the floor. One of them kicked me. I just laid on the floor and cried."

Justice, Jeffco style: Kelly Grizzell fought the law.
Anthony Camera
Justice, Jeffco style: Kelly Grizzell fought the law.

Grizzell filed a complaint with the sheriff's office over her treatment at the jail; Tallman says an internal-affairs investigation exonerated the officers involved. But Grizzell says they'll never be exonerated in her eyes: The ordeal has damaged her ability to cooperate with the sheriff's office in the investigation of her daughter's murder.

"We don't have a relationship right now at all," she says. "I can't trust them. When I walk into that building, I just shake."

Deputy Lucas reported that he felt no pain from the alleged punch to the solar plexus; consequently, Grizzell faced two misdemeanor counts rather than a more serious assault charge. For months, Jeffco District Attorney Dave Thomas's office declined to dismiss the case. "Because you're going through a traumatic event, that doesn't give you immunity in other situations," says Pam Russell, spokeswoman for the DA's office.

Prosecutors filed a motion to exclude Grizzell's comment to Lucas about not solving her daughter's murder -- as well as any reference to Columbine, the Subway killings, or "the alleged incompetence or lack of diligence of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office" -- as prejudicial.

Last month, faced with the prospect of an embarrassingly public trial, both sides finally reached a resolution. If Grizzell sees her grief counselor regularly for the next six months and is involved in no other altercations with police, the case will be dismissed. "I think the justice system worked in this instance," says Grizzell's attorney, Peter Albani, who declined to comment further on the case.

Russell says the outcome is in the best interest of all concerned. "Everyone knows that Kelly has had a lot of troubles through this process," she says. "At this stage, we're certainly willing to dismiss it if she gets the help that we believe she needs."

Grizzell believes Jefferson County needs help, too -- both in learning how to deal with victims' families and in cracking her daughter's case. The investigation into the Subway killings is still active, Tallman says, adding that her department tries "to breathe new life into the case by talking about it." But Grizzell thinks the case has been shelved.

"They say they'll look at it as leads come in, but they don't have any leads," she says. "I wish they did, but they don't."

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