Strange but true news stories from the past year
It takes extra effort to get initiated into Westword's annual Hall of Shame, and not everyone who acts like a shmuck over the course of the year makes the final cut. But some came very, very close. Here's a list of our Hall of Shame runners-up.
(View the 2011 Westword Hall of Shame.)
Douglas County Sheriff's Office lieutenant Jeff Egnor must have had a lot of time on his hands, because the now-former public servant spent a lot of time trolling the Internet and posting "racial and homophobic" comments — under the screen name "Abu Mybutt" — on news-outlet websites while on duty, according to a sheriff's department investigation that stemmed from a Channel 7 information request. His targets included Governor John Hickenlooper, illegal immigrants, liberals, and gays in the military. Examples of his choice prose included: "New military slogans: The few, the queer, the Marines! Butt Rangers lead the way!" and "I have an immigration policy: 12 gauge shotgun!"
Raymond Davis, a former CIA contractor, made headlines last January when he shot and killed two men who allegedly tried to rob him in Pakistan. Then, in October, he was arrested in Highlands Ranch after, police say, he beat up a guy who stole his parking spot outside an Einstein Bros. bagel shop. The 37-year-old Davis was charged with assault and disorderly conduct and slated for trial in January. He's likely to fare better in our justice system than he would have in a Pakistani jail, which is where Davis probably would have had to spend some time if someone — but certainly not the U.S. government — hadn't paid $2.3 million to the families of the two men he'd killed in order to free him.
Sure, he ended the season as a hero, but Denver Broncos field-goal kicker Matt Prater started off a little bit wobbly, if you know what we mean. In August, Prater was charged with DUI and fleeing the scene of an accident after police said he'd backed into another car in a Greenwood Village hotel parking lot. Why was Prater at a hotel at 3 a.m.? Police said he and a stripper from Shotgun Willie's were looking for a room. Prater bailed on the woman after the crash, however, and police found her hailing a cab.
Hubcaps can be expensive, and in the case of Brittany Gonzales, they're worth even more than children. Gonzales, 21, was arrested over the summer after Denver police said she hit an eleven-year-old boy who was riding his bike, stopped to grab the hubcap that had fallen off in the collision, asked someone else to call 911, and then took off. The boy suffered a variety of injuries, while Gonzales was charged with vehicular assault, DUI, child abuse and leaving the scene of an accident.
Thirteen months ago, Perrish Cox was a vaunted Denver Broncos rookie cornerback with the oyster-filled world of a star athlete laid out before him. Not anymore. In the ensuing months, Cox was charged with sexually assaulting a woman "who was physically helpless" and "incapable of determining the nature of the conduct." The woman, who believes she was drugged, got pregnant as a result of the assault, according to prosecutors; DNA tests show that Cox is the father. The Broncos cut Cox in September; a trial is set for February.
Dog breeder and pet store owner Jeff Fortin surrendered his breeding license in January — much to the delight of animal lovers, who have been complaining about him for years. But he didn't do so before euthanizing 1,200 dogs at his Oberlin, Kansas, puppy-breeding business, where an outbreak of distemper in December kept him from selling hundreds of animals. The story shocked animal-rights activists, who protested at his Denver pet store, North Washington Street Kennel. The U.S. Department of Agriculture also accused Fortin of violating rules about recordkeeping and health issues. In 2008, dog lovers staged numerous protests at Fortin's Longmont pet shop after he was accused of storing thirteen puppies in a tiny enclosure, among other things. In October, Fortin also closed his kennel in Adams County.
Some breakups are bad; others involve raw chicken. In late 2010, police arrested well-known Colorado lobbyist Ronald Dean Smith and accused him of breaking into his ex-wife's home, pouring bleach into her baby grand piano, erasing her computer hard drive and sticking raw chicken parts into the heating vents. According to police, Smith hosted a fundraiser at Coors Field for then-mayor John Hickenlooper the same day he committed the vandalism. Although Smith denied the allegations, a jury found him guilty in September of second-degree burglary and criminal mischief in the revenge scheme.
Denver Hispanic Chamber of Commerce president Jeffrey Campos, 55, was forced to resign last summer — just days before the organization's biggest annual fundraiser — after he was charged with assault in a case that involved an altercation with real-estate broker Jennifer Reins, a Chamber member. Details have been few, but Campos and Reins had a close relationship, according to news reports. A trial in the case is set for February.
Craziest stories of the year
In November, the members of Occupy Denver elected Shelby, a border collie mix, to serve as the leader of their so-called leaderless movement. But so far, Shelby's reign has been a dog. Protesters were unsuccessful in their attempts to arrange a meeting between Shelby and Governor John Hickenlooper. Someone set up a fake Twitter account for Shelby that mocked the Occupy movement — and even NPR made fun of Occupy Denver's top dog.
In February, Denver police discovered the body of onetime restaurant owner Ronald Ford in his home and issued an alert for his longtime partner, Ramiro "Rome" Sanchez, and a homeless cross-dresser the two had taken in, known only as Ms. Puppy. Speculation circulated for a week that Sanchez and Ms. Puppy had something to do with Ford's death and that the pair had fled. But that was before investigators discovered Sanchez's body...hidden in the basement of the same house. In August, police in Palm Springs, California, got a call from a man at a bar who said someone calling himself Ms. Puppy was sitting right next to him. Police swooped in and arrested a man named Daryl Rassmussen. And while Rassmussen hasn't been named as a suspect, Denver police are keeping tabs on him as he moves through court systems in Texas and Georgia, where Ms. Puppy has other legal troubles.
Lomon Sar, 31, forgot to leave his fantasy world behind in November when, police say, he threatened to blow up a Best Buy in Aurora because the store wouldn't sell him a copy of the game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 at a midnight release — even though he'd pre-purchased it. Sar subsequently laid out his tale of woe for news stations, explaining how he had been wronged (he'd called to pre-order the game, but the store didn't have any record of his order) and saying he hadn't really meant to threaten Best Buy. "I put my hands up to my head and I'm like, 'God, now I'm mad.' I said, 'I am so pissed right now I can blow this place up,'" he told 9News. Sar, who bought the game later that night at Walmart and went home to play it for hours, was charged with disorderly conduct.
Denver grandma Rosina Kovar, a retired home-economics instructor, gave the state senate a thrill in March when she taught her own version of a sex-ed class while testifying against a bill that would have allowed same-sex marriage. Kovar explained to the assembled elected officials that "the anus is an exit; it is not an entrance." She also opined that "unlike the vagina, nature put a tight sphincter at the entrance of the anus. It's there for a reason. Keep out!" Kovar's purple language matched her purple pantsuit that day, and her appearance quickly went viral on YouTube and Twitter.
In one of the most ridiculous stories of the year — one that crossed political, racial, cultural and sexual lines — two men and a woman on a flight from Detroit to Denver were detained on September 11, the tenth anniversary of 9/11, strip-searched and questioned because someone had said they were involved in some suspicious activity in the lavatory. What kind of suspicious activity? Initial reports had the trio trying to join the Mile High Club — with a military escort, since the Air Force had sent a pair of F-16 jets to tail the plane. But it turns out that the three passengers, who were all sitting in the same row, may simply have been victims of racial profiling, since the woman — a half-Jewish and half-Arab freelance writer named Shoshana Hebshi — didn't even know the two men (neither of whom was accused of anything) and insisted she wasn't playing any sexy airline games with them.
Titus Terranova might not make the best neighbor, but at least he's honest. In September, the Brighton man posted a message in big red letters on his RV warning potential buyers of the home next to his that he has loud parties, drives loud cars, owns three Rottweilers, lights fireworks and plays his tunes at an elevated volume. His neighbor, who is trying to sell the house, wasn't happy, but Terranova told 7News he wants people to know. "If you don't like that, don't buy a house here. That's all I got to say," he explained.
Mark Rubinson, 25, Robert Young, 43, and Jeffrey Jarrett, 43, liked to party, and in August the three men tore up the town, running up a big bar tab and hitting a strip club. The only problem: Jarrett was dead. In describing what became known nationally as the "Weekend at Bernie's" case because of its similarities to the movie of that name, Rubinson and Young said they hadn't known Jarrett was dead when they loaded him into a car and headed out; they thought he'd just passed out. The two stuck with their buddy all night, though, graciously using his credit card wherever they went. Rubinson and Jarrett have since been charged with identity theft and abusing a corpse.
The battle over medical marijuana intersected with the world of pizza delivery — already a frequent companion — in October when a Papa John's delivery man narced on an Aurora customer who was smoking pot while a child was in his house. The police were called but declined to press charges against Frederick Smith, who has a medical marijuana card. And while Papa John's stood behind its employee, another pizza joint, Sexy Pizza in Capitol Hill, offered Smith one free pizza per month until the 2012 elections for his troubles. The owner of Sexy Pizza supports marijuana law reform.
Playtime got a little more complicated in July, when the Colorado Department of Human Services notified all daycare centers in the state that they would have to stock dolls representing at least three different races. The rule was one of many new ones instituted by the agency — and certainly the most controversial.
Public servants who made us cringe
A well-fed group of Colorado lawmakers voted in January to end free breakfasts for poor children attending public schools. The Joint Budget Committee decided that $124,000 was too much to pay to help feed 56,000 of the state's neediest kids. "As a family guy myself with children and grandchildren, I take a very strong responsibility to earn money to feed my own family," Colorado Springs Republican Kent Lambert told a local newspaper before popping a doughnut in his mouth. (Okay, we imagined that last bit.)
Two undercover Colorado Springs cops on an alleged "stakeout" of a Hooters restaurant blew their chances of busting the place for serving beers to already-intoxicated patrons when they ordered a couple of beers themselves. Although the department tried to cite both the restaurant and an eighteen-year-old waitress there, prosecutors were forced to drop both cases because the judge had been told the cops weren't drinking when, in fact, they had been.
"They're supporting the same BS protests going on on Wall Street. The typical 'Tax the Rich' 'Eff the Cops' anarchist crap!"
"Yeah. Denver protesters are too pathetic for us to have anything like that, though."
The above was just one of many exchanges between Denver cops over over a squad-car-to-squad-car text-messaging system, talking about the Occupy Denver protesters who began camping out at Civic Center Park in September. It was released as part of 31 pages of inter-car communication that were turned over to the public in December. While most of the texts were routine, a few didn't meet "the standard of professionalism expected by the Denver Police Department," a DPD spokesman said by way of an apology. Still, he defended the banter to news media outlets as "understandable.... It is important to note that while not a defense for inappropriate behavior, many Denver police officers have now endured months of having to leave their families to come into work early, giving up their days off, and silently tolerating hours of taunting and abusive actions by some protesters."
State senator Suzanne Williams, who sponsored a 2010 law requiring children under the age of ten to be buckled up in vehicles, caused a head-on crash in Texas in late December 2010 that resulted in the death of a pregnant woman in the oncoming car. In addition, investigators later determined that none of the passengers in Williams's car — her son and two grandsons — were wearing seat belts. In fact, both her son and three-year-old grandson were ejected from the car; law enforcement officials believe Williams retrieved her grandchild and placed him back in his car seat before an ambulance arrived. Williams was cited for driving on the wrong side of the road. She rejected pressure from colleagues to resign, but was denied a position as chairwoman of the Senate transportation committee in January.
It's always good to hear about public-school teachers who give their students a little extra time and effort. Unfortunately, 31-year-old Mountain View High instructional coach Courtney Bowles chose to do so by having sex in a Loveland park with a sixteen-year-old student at the school. In January, police arrested Bowles after finding her naked atop the boy — who she claimed was twenty years old. Bowles, who was married, later pleaded guilty to felony child abuse and was sentenced to ten years of intensive sex-offender supervised probation.
It may have been cold outside last January, but things got heated inside the State Capitol when Centennial Republican representative David Balmer let his passion for the subject of redistricting (so sexy!) get the best of him during a conversation with Democratic senator Gail Schwartz. In fact, Balmer made so much "boisterous noise" and so many "hand gestures" that a sergeant on the Senate floor asked him to leave. Balmer later apologized for his behavior, but was still banned from the Senate floor for the rest of the 2011 session.
New Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler — who regulates election laws and campaign-finance rules as part of his job — got off to a great start this year when it was revealed that he was still working for his old firm, the Hackstaff Law Group, which happens to specialize in the same things: a massive conflict of interest. Gessler explained that his new job — the one he campaigned for on other people's money — didn't pay enough, and so he'd wanted to supplement his $68,500 income with a little moonlighting.
Ellicott District 22 Board of Education treasurer Stefanie Dickinson, 37, was arrested in September and charged with sexting a fourteen-year-old boy she'd spent time with earlier in the year. Police said Dickinson, who resigned from her position on the school board shortly after her arrest, sent explicit messages to the boy. A month later, Dickinson was arrested again; this time, she was charged with having sex with another teenager in 2008.
A 61-year-old Durango-area mailman was accused of spitting his own feces on a police officer in February after he was arrested for DUI. Paul Andrew Kausalik was charged with felony assault, driving under the influence and criminal mischief, and sentenced to sixty days in jail. What a pottymouth!
In January, a man was arrested in Breckenridge after police discovered that he'd left his toddler daughter in an unheated van in a parking lot for several hours. The temperature that day was around eighteen degrees, but the girl was unharmed.
A man who was sleeping in the camper part of his Ford pickup got an unusual wake-up call in January when someone climbed in the driver's seat and stole the vehicle. As he was being driven around Denver by the clueless car thief, the man called 911 to tell police where the vehicle was going. Police pulled the truck over a while later and arrested the thief.
A semi truck hauling a load of peaches and apples made a big mess in July when it flipped over on I-70 in Jefferson County. Like any good parent, the Colorado Department of Transportation asked the truck's owner, A2B Transport, to clean up the mess or face the consequences — a cleaning bill, in this case. The wreck closed the highway for hours while the fruit was swept to the side, where it remained for some time.
A 34-member U.S. Army unit returning from Afghanistan to Colorado was charged an extra $2,800 in excess-baggage fees by Delta Airlines. Two of the unit's sergeants recorded a video about the situation and posted it on YouTube, prompting the airline to apologize and immediately change its baggage-fee policy for soldiers.
In June, plainclothes Denver police officers surprised riders on a light-rail train by pulling out their badges and announcing that they were checking tickets. As they discovered scofflaws, they issued tickets and banned riders from the trains.
A night on the town, a gyro sandwich and a taxi resulted in a rough time for a 28-year-old woman who ended up being arrested by Boulder police on an outstanding warrant. The saga began one night in June, when the woman, who'd had a few drinks with friends, bought a gyro and then tried to get into a cab. The driver told her that he didn't allow food in the vehicle. What happened next depends on which version of the story you believe (both were in reported in the Boulder Daily Camera): she threw her sandwich at the driver, or he grabbed it from the woman and threw it himself. Either way, the taxi driver wound up with yogurt sauce spattered on his beard and face. The woman was arrested after police found an outstanding warrant for having a dog at large.
A street sweeper cleaning a parking lot smashed into the Famous Dave's Bar-B-Que in Stapleton at 2:25 a.m. last April before coming to a stop in the bar. He told police he didn't remember what happened and was cited for careless driving.
The Transportation Safety Administration certainly faced its share of (occasionally partially naked) critics this year — a continuation of the 2010 angst over the agency's screening and groping techniques. One man in Denver opted to go through security in nothing but a tight pair of colored undies. Nothing was more awkward, though, than the case of Longmont's Yukari Miyamae, 61, who was arrested in July and accused of grabbing a female TSA agent's breast at a security gate in the Phoenix airport; the agent was about to perform a pat-down on her. Miyamae later told a radio station she had been abducted as a child and has a fear of being touched by strangers, which was part of the reason for her actions.
As if air travel wasn't difficult enough, Denver International Airport reported in January that the number of incidents in which people point powerful handheld lasers at airplanes had doubled over the previous two years to 38. The lasers can damage pilots' eyes and temporarily affect their vision.
A dump-truck driver convicted in 2009 of reckless endangerment after a confrontation with a Boulder-area cyclist was involved in another incident last June — this one fatal. Christopher G. Loven was charged with careless driving after an accident in which he collided with 73-year-old cyclist Eugene Howrey in Lefthand Canyon. Howrey died at the scene. In 2009, Loven had been ticketed after another cyclist claimed he'd forced him into oncoming traffic with his truck, according to the Daily Camera.
Suffer the children
Several parents got into a fight last summer during a youth baseball game in Castle Rock, turning into the twelve-year-old boys they were supposed to be watching. The situation started with an umpire's call and ended with pushing and shoving and yelling — not to mention a few citations, including one against the town's very own prosecutor, Christy Ausmus, who was involved in the altercation.
In June, a woman called police to report that her two-year-old was missing, sparking a police search of the neighborhood. It turned out that the mom, who was all of nineteen, had forgotten her son at a pawn shop earlier that day.
A husband and wife desperate to gamble at a casino in Central City left their baby in a locked car in a parking garage for over an hour last June. The mom returned to the car around the same time as the police, who charged the parents with child abuse. In Parker, a woman was accused of leaving her one-year-old baby in a hot car while she went into the At the Beach tanning salon in Parker; she was cited for child abuse.
Police in Jefferson County arrested a 51-year-old Jefferson High School cafeteria manager in January and accused her of dishing up more than just food. Several teenagers at the school claimed the woman was actually their marijuana hookup.
Fireworks weren't the only thing that got lit on July 4: A woman claimed that employees at a Longmont Chili's served alcoholic fruit smoothies to her three young children. Pam Bruenning and her family were on their way to see a fireworks show when they decided to cool off at the restaurant. After her eight-year-old daughter complained of dizziness, Bruenning took a sip of her drink — and, as she told the Longmont Daily Times-Call, she was overwhelmed by the taste of alcohol. Bruenning complained, the fire department was called, the kids were taken to the hospital. Everyone made it to the fireworks show.
In Arvada, police arrested a woman who allegedly got into a 2 a.m. fight with her daughter over a Facebook post that included the word "vagina," then handcuffed the fourteen-year-old and called the police. The girl ran away to a neighbor's house. Mom was arrested.
In May, an eighth-grader at Craig Middle School who wore a breast-cancer-awareness bracelet to school that read "I Heart Boobies! Keep a Breast!" was called into the principal's office and lectured. Afterward, the ACLU stepped in to give the Moffat County School District its own lecture on First Amendment rights. The school said it didn't want the bracelets to become a distraction, but decided to allow them. Boobies, boobies, boobies.
The Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs built an outdoor chapel — at a reported cost of $80,000 — for pagans, Wiccans, druids and other service members who practice earth-based religions; the chapel consists of a circle of stones around an altar. The Academy has faced numerous accusations in recent years that it favors evangelical Christianity.
In July, the Christian dating site ChristianMingle.com said it had determined that Denver was one of the top five cities in the nation where active Christian singles could find dates with similar interests — and this was way before Tebowmania. The other cities on the list were Atlanta, Dallas, Jacksonville and Houston.
In November, some Tebow fans began customizing their No. 15 jerseys so that they had the name "Jesus" on them instead of "Tebow." The jerseys were just one of many religion-related tie-ins to the Christian quarterback — some done out of love, some as mockery — the most famous of which was the Tebowing phenomenon, which mimicked Tebow's one-kneed prayer motion.
Former pastor Ted Haggard's real life was weird enough when he was forced to resign his position as head of the evangelical New Life Church in 2006, after it was revealed that he was doing drugs and had a relationship with a male prostitute. But things got even weirder when Haggard signed on for not one, but two reality shows. The first was a one-hour special on the TLC network. The second is Celebrity Wife Swap, during which he'll trade spouses with actor Gary Busey. Look for that show to debut in January.
Pants on the ground
It's hard to eat and drive at the same time. It's even more difficult to go through the Burger King drive-thru without your pants on. In January, Richard Troupe of Longmont was arrested after he pulled into a drive-thru on Ken Pratt Boulevard and asked the female employee there if she wanted to touch his whopper. She didn't. Troupe was eventually convicted of indecent exposure while masturbating, public indecency and driving drunk. No word on whether he got fries to go with that shake.
After someone reported a naked man walking down Cheyenne Street in May, Golden police tried to talk to the fellow — but he ran away and headed uphill, climbing over rocks and through bushes and trees. The cops gave chase right up the mountain, and eventually caught the man.
A man described by Loveland police as "quite obese," white and between twenty and thirty years old, exposed himself in a Walmart store to several people in March. No details about his junk were released.
In April, vandals decapitated a controversial sculpture of a nude person climbing a wall that sits in a roundabout in the town of Silt. Police estimated the damage at $1,000.
So a horse walks into a bar, and the bartender says, "Why the long face?" Good joke, but not for the threesome of Michael Joseph Miller, Kenneth Recker and Roxanne Lange, who in December rode their horses around Steamboat Springs and into various businesses, including a Safeway (where they were asked to leave) and a bar called the Old Town Pub. Miller got into a fight at the bar, according to police, and was tasered when he refused to dismount.
Aurora's parks department installed four plywood coyotes at Utah Park in an effort to scare off an overabundance of geese that were pooping on the trails. The department reported that the decoys appeared to be working.
In July, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow named a Jefferson County "There Is No Poop Fairy" public service campaign the "Best New Thing in the World." The campaign was designed to get people to clean up after their dogs, and it came with its own myth: "Like the Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot, the fabled poop fairy has been the stuff of legend. Flying undetected in parks, neighborhoods and schoolyards, she was said to follow close behind dogs and their owners — picking up what the dog left behind before flying off to the next canine creation. A widespread belief that she existed seemed to reassure some that cleaning up after one's dog was sort of...optional." It's not.
Insurance companies are good at dealing with cars. But when it comes to pets? Not so much. In August, Farmers' Insurance, which was representing a driver who ran over Marcia Pinkstaff's dog, said it planned to "total out" her pet after paying for a few trips to the vet. The dog, a lab mix named Sasha, had ben hit by a minivan when she and Pinkstaff were crossing the street. "I was horrified," Pinkstaff told 7News. "They said they were totaling out my dog. It broke my heart, because she is like a child to me."
In September, a woman who had been hired to pet-sit a Chihuahua was charged with animal cruelty after witnesses said she was driving down the street at ten to fifteen miles per hour while running the dog, Cooper, alongside the car. The woman told a judge she was just doing what the dog's owner had asked her do.
A woman who hired Posh Maids to take care of her house sued the cleaning service in October, claiming that two maids let her dog, Ruthie, escape while they were there in August. Although the dog later returned, it had been severely injured and died in the woman's dining room. Robin Lohre says she called the maid service afterward to demand an answer and was told that Ruthie had been hit by a car but returned on her own.
In February, a planeload of former Bolivian circus lions landed in Denver, where the kings — and queens — of the jungle were then loaded into special trucks for their journey to a wildlife refuge in Keenesburg. The 25 animals were rescued by Animal Defenders International, which says the lions were treated horribly by their circus masters. Former game-show host Bob Barker helped fund the mission, dubbed Operation Lion Ark.
The Bolivian lions weren't the only felines that made a long trip in 2011. In September, a cat that had gone missing in Boulder five years ago turned up safe and sound at an animal shelter in New York City. The cute little calico, named Willow, was identified with a microchip that had been implanted in her back when she was a kitten. Willow's story made national and international headlines.
In June, state wildlife officers asked the public for information on two people who were seen hand-feeding cheeseburgers to a black bear and her cubs in the parking lot of an Eagle Burger King. "This is an extraordinary example of stupid and irresponsible behavior by people," one state employee told a news outlet. You can hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, but please don't feed the animals.
In February, a Colorado Springs man was arrested after getting into an argument with two people at an apartment complex and then allegedly beating them up with a "wooden Native American spiritual stick" belonging to one of the victims.
In June, the Denver Post reported on a man it called "Nerdiest. Accused meth kingpin. Ever." The story detailed the case of Aaron Castro, a Commerce City man who was arrested and charged with running a multimillion-dollar meth ring. Police said Castro had spent thousands and thousands of dollars buying comic books — 18,753 of them, to be exact — and then allegedly hiding some of his meth in them. According to the cops, Castro planned to set up a comic-book business as a way to launder drug money.
Someone set the Denver Fire Department's arson van on fire in March while an investigator was interviewing people about two other vehicle fires. The investigator had to call the fire department to extinguish the flames. The van was destroyed.
Colorado thieves were particularly creative this year when it came to their disguises. In January, a pair of robbers dressed as Star Wars Stormtroopers tried to break into a car in Centennial, while in Colorado Springs, two gunmen hit an American National Bank branch wearing George Bush masks. A man dressed as a pirate attempted to rob a Walgreens in Colorado Springs in May, but his disguise was trumped by a guy who dressed as a skeleton to rob a credit union in El Paso County. And then there were the two clowns who held up Sonny's jewelry store in Denver dressed as, well, clowns. They were later apprehended in Utah.
Getting high on 4/20 in Boulder is a popular activity, especially on the University of Colorado campus, where law enforcement officials usually turn a blind eye — and nose — to the students toking up. But they couldn't ignore a teenager who crashed into a Boulder County sheriff deputy's patrol car at the event. The worst part? The crash happened at 3:43 p.m., before the communal smoke-up. Bummer, dude.
A woman who stopped her car and angrily complained to a group of Westminster police officers investigating a drunk-driving crash that they had stopped their patrol cars in a bad spot was herself arrested and charged with DUI. "I wish every drunk would seek us out. It would be great," a Westminster investigator told 7News.
A drunk driver crashed into a Summit County sheriff deputy's parked patrol car along U.S. Highway 6 in March; the deputy had just pulled over another suspected DUI. The officer wasn't in the car at the time and wasn't hurt.
In January, a nineteen-year-old man freaked out on a woman who refused to buy him beer in Boulder, trying to strangle her, biting her hand and hitting her in the head with a skateboard, according to police. Stephen Edward Siebold was arrested and charged with assault; police say he may have been under the influence of narcotics.
A woman who tried to sneak a drink out of Teddy's Bar in Denver in October went off on an employee who stopped her, eventually grabbing his balls and kneeing him in the leg. The staffer called the cops, who arrested the 41-year-old woman, but not before she apparently tried to make amends. "I wanna take you home and fuck your brains out," she reportedly told the employee. How romantic.
Strange brews and news
A man who tried to put out a campfire in June by pouring beer on it died moments later of smoke and soot inhalation, according to Grand Junction police. A coroner's report said alcohol intoxication was a contributing factor in the 48-year-old man's death.
The University of Colorado filed suit against a toilet-paper manufacturer in May, claiming that the company's product caused the toilets to overflow in more than twenty buildings on campus in 2009 and cost the university thousands of dollars. CU said the "defective" toilet paper supplied by Waxie Enterprises and Royal Paper Converting forced the university to hire plumbing contractors to fix the problems, at a cost of $40,000.
In March, someone reprogrammed an electric highway sign on Foothills Parkway in Boulder to read "Zombies ahead." The sign stayed like that for several hours, despite a lack of actual undead. The Colorado Department of Transportation said the sign was hacked, and changed it to the much less dramatic "Shoulder work Feb. 28 through June."
A hazardous-materials squad was called to a Colorado Springs apartment complex in September after the facility manager inspected a unit and found two buckets full of liquid with an unusual smell. Although the manager suspected it was meth, the mysterious liquid turned out to be beer that the apartment resident was home-brewing.
Before President Barack Obama's State of the Union address in January, Colorado Democratic senator Mark Udall wrote a letter to all 535 members of Congress asking them to sit together rather than separated by political party; the request came in the aftermath of the shooting of Arizona representative Gabrielle Giffords. While Udall's earnest, if somewhat corny, call for civility was heartily mocked by many — who called it a "political date night" or "Kumbaya letter" — more than sixty elected officials signed on, including eight of the nine members of the Colorado delegation. No injuries were reported.
In January, Governor John Hickenlooper told the media that he had thought about trying to install a beer kegerator in the governor's mansion, but that his wife had explained to him that the news might overshadow other things he was trying to accomplish. Hickenlooper, who co-founded the Wynkoop Brewing Company, did ask that hops rhizomes be planted in the mansion's vegetable garden, however.
The decision not to install the beer kegerator was probably a good one, considering that Governor Hickenlooper soon opened up the mansion as a boardinghouse for cabinet members who live outside the metro area. Since the governor doesn't live at the mansion, he offered its rooms to his appointed officials. Free beer might have been a little much.
The Year in Review was compiled using reports by news outlets throughout the state, including Westword.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Westword's biggest stories.