Catching up on a story from earlier this year: Since 2015, authorities in Aspen have sought to make Landin Smith pay for two separate incidents in which he kicked members of the local police department. But in the end, Smith received no jail time for giving officers the boot, even though he's committed similar acts so often that he was nicknamed the Aspen Cop Kicker. Moreover, Smith has spent plenty of time behind bars for his past actions.
As noted in our previous coverage, Smith, who's in his fifties, has been engaged in alcohol-fueled, foot-related abuse of folks on the Aspen force for the better part of a decade. In December 2009, for instance, he was sentenced to four years in prison for an incident the previous August in Koch Lumber Park. Smith had allegedly been drinking, something that violated his bond in another case. But when two cops tried to take him into custody, he kicked up a helluva fuss. As evidence, note that one of the officers suffered three broken bones.
Smith wound up serving three of his four years before being set loose in December 2012. But freedom apparently chafed at him, because about a month after his release, he kicked another cop. He was arrested on suspicion of felony assault on a police officer. However, he pleaded the beef down to attempted assault on a first responder, a misdemeanor — albeit one that still earned him another six-month jolt in jail.
Cut to February 2015, when Smith reacted to a sergeant's attempt to take him to detox in a different way — by punching the man in the face, among other things. Hence another charge of assaulting a police officer, for which he spent most of 2015 in jail because of his inability to post bail. He finally scraped together the funds in December, but hours after returning to the streets, cops discovered that he'd violated his bond by hitting the sauce again — and Smith responded by yelling, threatening and, yes, kicking the officers dealing with him.
Back to jail he went — and in February 2016, he pleaded guilty to two counts of felony assault. But before the case could get through the system, Smith fired his public defender. His new lawyer subsequently announced that his client might withdraw his guilty pleas, which he did. Then, that September, Smith entered insanity pleas that he explained to the judge in the case using the first person plural: "Our mental state is definitely impaired."
The insanity plea is generally deployed only for the most serious crimes. Earlier in 2016, however, the tactic was successfully used by Thomas Proesel after his arrest for allegedly pushing snowboarder Seth Beckton off a chairlift at Aspen Highlands ski area, causing him to fall twenty feet or more.
But Smith wasn't so lucky. As noted by the Aspen Times, both the state psychiatric hospital and a private psychiatrist determined that he was sane, prompting him to withdraw the insanity pleas in June. He eventually pleaded guilty to both felony and misdemeanor assault on a police officer, but only after striking a deal with prosecutors, who agreed to a four-year probationary sentence rather than a stint in stir — which probably suits authorities just fine. In August 2016, Smith reportedly flooded his jail cell; the following month, he's said to have drawn pictures on his cell's walls using his own blood.
While on probation, Smith's sobriety will be monitored. He has also been ordered not to partake in either alcohol or drugs — and in the months since, there have been no other reports of him putting his toes into cops or anyone else.
No doubt the police officers of Aspen hope that's one habit he's kicked.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.