Eric Montes, Craig cop, during alleged drunken spree: "I know the (bleeping) law"

When police officers are caught on the wrong side of the law, they don't necessarily behave better than the people they're accustomed to busting.

That's one takeaway from the arrest of Craig officer Eric Montes, who reportedly responded to law-enforcement contact following a boozy domestic incident by claiming to be a coal miner and throwing a tantrum in a police cruiser even though the cops seemed ready to let him sleep off his buzz.

A 2009 article in the Craig Daily Press made note of Montes joining the CPD. The piece quotes the 2006 graduate of Moffat County High School as saying that before he earned his badge, he'd done maintenance work in Steamboat Springs -- a job that didn't exactly thrill him.

"I thought, 'I can't be doing this all my life,'" he told the paper. "I like working around people, and helping people. It just seemed like this was going to be a really good career."

Right now, however, Montes isn't in uniform, and that has everything to do with what happened in the Western Slope community of Clifton around 1 a.m. on Sunday, February 16.

According to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, Montes and an unidentified woman got into an altercation noisy enough that Mesa County Sheriff's Office deputies were called.

The pair had reportedly spent part of the evening at a watering hole called Cactus Canyon and had alcohol on their breath. Moreover, Montes allegedly gave a couple of bogus stories about his employment, claiming that he was either a coal miner or an oil-field scrubber -- claims contradicted by a card in his possession that said he was a member of the Craig PD.

Even so, deputies determined no violence had taken place and decided against charging anyone with a crime, at least initially. But at the same time, they didn't want Montes staying at the scene of the dust-up -- and they weren't wild about the idea of letting him walk around, drive or sleep in his vehicle, either. So they tried to convince him to catch a cab to a nearby hotel and said they'd drive him there if the taxi didn't arrive within fifteen minutes.

Pretty good service -- but Montes didn't take advantage of it. A MCSO report quotes him as yelling, "I know the (bleeping) law," and after he was placed in a patrol car, he allegedly started kicking inside of it.

The result of this display was a summons for disorderly conduct and disrupting government operations, as well as trouble back at the office.

In a statement about the case, Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta writes, "The Craig Police Department has a lot of dedicated men and women who are committed to serving the community. Like any other profession, these men and women are also human beings and sometimes make mistakes or get in trouble. Unfortunately, it appears that has happen to one of our own."

After recapping Montes's bust, Vanatta notes that "the Craig Police Department has initiated an internal investigation of the incident to determine any department policy violations and potential disciplinary action. Any internal action will be in addition to any criminal penalties he may face in Mesa County. Officer Montes, who has been with the department since January 2009, has been placed on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation."

Sounds like he would have been better off catching a ride to that hotel.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Colorado Crimes archive circa December 2011: "Rick Ferguson, Boulder deputy, allegedly used squad car computer to chat up underage girls."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts