Was Occupy Denver bustee Michael Clapper just along for the ride in kidnapping, sex assault?
Michael Clapper's 2011 mug shot. More photos below.
Now he's making news of a different, and particularly vile, sort. He's one of two men arrested and charged in the alleged kidnapping and sex assault of a woman who was picked up in Denver and dropped off near Glenwood Springs, but not before she says they tried to get truck drivers to pay to have sex with her.
At approximately 11:30 p.m. on a December night in 2011, as we reported at the time, Denver police "delivered on its promise" to remove a small fort city constructed by Occupy Denver protesters. "Although protesters burned a handful of the encumbrances down, approximately 200 officers in riot gear moved in with batons and pepper ball guns before they could destroy any others," our Kelsey Whipple wrote, adding, "All demonstrators have been evicted from Civic Center Park."
An Occupy Denver bonfire on the night of a December 2011 police raid on a Civic Center Park encampment.
Photo by Kelsey Whipple
In the end, nine people were arrested for their actions during the raid, including Clapper, then 22. He was charged with four counts of 4th degree arson due to allegations that he "intentionally set fire to an encumbrance and other items in the area, which endangered others," Whipple noted. "Because of this danger, the charges are classified as a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to six years in jail. The 22-year-old Westminster native faces a bail amount set at $50,000."
Clapper subsequently pleaded guilty to the charge -- but he was free on June 11, according to the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, which has the best account we've found about what led to his latest booking photo.
According to an arrest affidavit cited by the paper, Clapper told investigators that he was approached at a Denver bus stop by Richard Pacheco, 34, who asked him if he was "GKI" because he was wearing a purple shirt, as was Pacheco.
The initials "GKI" reference Gallant Knights Insane, one of Denver's most venerable gangs. For instance, the outfit is cited in an October 2008 Westword blog post about a lawsuit filed by the family of Jason Gomez after he was shot by a Denver police officer.
A Google Maps screen capture of the intersection of Colfax and Broadway.
Even though Clapper told Pacheco he wasn't GKI, they apparently became fast friends anyhow and were en route to get a drink at around 8 p.m. when they reportedly spotted a woman near a bus stop at Colfax and Broadway.
The report quotes the woman as saying the men said they were headed to Las Vegas and told her to get into their red Honda Civic. She claims to have been sexually assaulted by what's described as "the shorter of the two men" as they drove around Denver before heading west on I-70.
"She also told police that the pair tried and failed to get truck drivers to have sex with her for money," the Post Independent reports.
A Google Maps look near the rest area off I-70 where the woman was dropped off.
In his comments to investigators, Clapper attempts to minimize his culpability. He says he told Pacheco "he was unwilling to take part in non-consensual sex" and maintains that dropping her off at a rest stop near Bair Ranch in the Glenwood Springs area was his idea.
The woman contacted the Colorado State Patrol shortly before noon on June 12, and based on her description, troopers spotted the Honda a short time later and took Pacheco and Clapper into custody. The car was allegedly stolen.
Pacheco, who boasts an arrest record dating back more than fifteen years, was cuffed on suspicion of sex assault, second-degree kidnapping, first-degree criminal trespass and theft, while Clapper is facing the latter three allegations. Here's a look at his latest mug shot, along with Pacheco's.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
More from our Occupy Denver archive circa December 2011: "Updated: Occupy Denver's latest eviction ends in flames, arrests and Tebowing."
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.