Mitt Romney backer allegedly roughed up at rally files complaint against Jeffco sheriff's office

In September, Regan Benson, a Mitt Romney supporter, sent us footage of her dramatic scuffle with Jefferson County deputies as she was trying to leave a late-night presidential rally. She claims she was unfairly handcuffed and detained and has lingering physical pains a month later. That's part of the reason that she filed an internal-affairs complaint with the sheriff's office -- which isn't discussing the matter further.

When we first reported on her allegations, officials from the sheriff's department told a very different story than Benson, who does public-education advocacy work and has gotten attention numerous times for free-speech efforts. The official reports from deputies working the Romney event stated that Benson was purposely causing a scene after the rally and that they had no choice but to restrain her. She was trying to violate a direct order from the Secret Service that the crowd be contained until Romney's motorcade passed, those reports said.

The footage here, which is mostly just audio, captures Benson telling officers that she wants to get to her car at the event at D'Evelyn Junior/Senior High School, with officials replying [corrected] that she can't pass yet. She screams as she is handcuffed, before the video cuts out.

Benson, who was at the rally with her son, says that after her camera died, she was roughed up so badly by the sheriff's office that she went to the hospital afterward to make sure she hadn't sustained any injuries. Nothing was broken, but she says she still has lingering pains and problems with her hips and shoulders.

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In their accounts, officers say Benson was calling them names and being unnecessarily aggressive, even when she was repeatedly told that if she just waited for a few minutes, she would be allowed to get to her car.

Benson has a long history of clashing with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office; this latest internal-affairs complaint is the sixth she has filed against them. She also has made headlines for a range of activism, including a fight with the Colorado Board of Education over the expulsion of her son, who she says faced backlash for wearing a shirt reading "Border Patrol." One of her sons also made headlines for wearing a "Nobama" shirt outside an event with the First Lady in 2008.

But this time, she says, it's important to draw attention to inappropriate behavior of some officials in the department and the need for reforms to prevent this kind of excessive force in the future.

"The female deputy was determined to cause pain and possibly injury as she dragged me across the parking lot so no one could witness what she was doing," she says.

Benson filed the official complaint in person earlier this month and has also asked the sheriff's office to pay for medical bills related to the incident.

Part of her complaint also includes the allegation that deputies have lied in their official reports, sent to us last month and on view below.

"They said we were inciting the crowd," she says. "That's a blatant lie.... The reports as compared to the video...the chain of events don't match up."

Continue for a response from the sheriff's office to the internal-affairs complaint.   Mark Techmeyer, a spokesman for the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, confirms that there is an internal-affairs complaint, but says he cannot comment further since it's an active investigation. Nothing yet has been determined, he says, adding that he has no comment on Benson's request for the department to foot her medical bills.

The crowd leaving the Romney rally that night.
The crowd leaving the Romney rally that night.
Sam Levin

Here's part of an October 11 note from the sheriff's office, saying that the county is not liable in this case; Benson forwarded it to us.

Mitt Romney backer allegedly roughed up at rally files complaint against Jeffco sheriff's office
Courtesy of Regan Benson

Given her past experiences with the sheriff's office, Benson says she is not confident anything will change because of this complaint.

"I would hope they would start increasing their training -- they obviously have training issues," she says, adding that she hopes "these employees would be held accountable, whether it's demotion, dock in pay and even termination."

At the least, she says, they should help her with associated medical costs. "If they could've simply paid these medical bills.... What's wrong with doing the right thing?"

Continue for the original report from the sheriff's office.   Regan Benson Report

More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "James Holmes's lawyers ask to delay hearing, say media requests are "beginning to interfere""

Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin. E-mail the author at Sam.Levin@Westword.com.


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