Denver, CO: Amelia Nicol June 9th court update

Update #4 on Amelia Nicol, Anti-Police Terror Prisoner
Denver, CO
by Denver Anarchist Black Cross

There have been some major developments within Amelia’s case. Amelia had a pretrial hearing today, on June 9. A pretrial hearing allows for a judge to hear the evidence, and decide whether there is sufficient evidence for a defendant to stand trial for the charges that have been filed. In this case, as detailed below, the judge made some pretty strong rulings in favor of Amelia.

As of the writing of this reportback, the judge in the case, Judge Andrew S. Armatas, has thrown out nearly all of the felonies that Amelia was facing, including both charges of attempted first degree murder, the charge of arson, the charge of inciting a riot, an amended charge of participating in a riot, and a charge of felony criminal mischief. Amelia is left facing a single felony charge of possession of an explosive, and three misdemeanor charges: one count of resisting arrest and two counts of attempted assault on a police officer.

These developments are amazingly good news for Amelia, but the fight is far from over. Amelia has made a decision to accept being bonded out at this point, as her bond has been reduced to $5,000. We hope to be able to raise the whole amount and avoid a bondsmen, and hope to have her out by next week. We really need donations to make this possible, as we may be taking out some loans or calling in some favors to make this happen. Furthermore, since Amelia was homeless when she was arrested, she will be needing a place to stay and money for food, clothing and other needs. The local movement here will surely help her out to any degree we can, but any additional funds would be extremely helpful. Please send any monetary donations to:

Denver ABC
2727 W. 27th Ave Unit D
Denver, CO 80211
Checks should be made payable to P&L Printing with “Amelia” written in the memo line.

Thus far, nearly all donations that have been raised have gone to pay for phone calls (averaging $15 per call), stamps, envelopes and paper. A big thanks to everyone who has donated to us so far!

Amelia is going to be in court again for an arraignment on the four charges that remain on June 27th at 8:30 am in courtroom 2T. She still faces one felony, and we will work tirelessly until she can beat this case.

Denver ABC held a press conference for Amelia yesterday, June 8th, outside the Denver District Attorney’s office. Though that news is far overshadowed by the importance of the charges being dropped, the press conference was eventful, to say the least. Video provided by West Denver Copwatch can be found at this link:

A particularly entertaining moment was when Denver ABC members and some allies attempted to meet with the District Attorney. Watch the video, you’ll see what we mean.

In the end, however, it wasn’t the District Attorney who ensured that the most serious of charges would not stick, it was the judge. We’re including a detailed report from the pretrial hearing written by a member of Denver ABC. It was a very dramatic hearing, and concluded with a majority of the people present in the courtroom clapping and banging on the court benches to show support for Amelia, including other prisoners.

Pretrial Hearing Report, June 9 2011

Court convened at 8:47 am in Courtroom 2100, presided over by Judge Andrew S. Armatas. The pretrial hearing involved the testimony of two Denver police officers, and the presentation of a compilation of written reports and statements from other Denver police officers.

The first witness called to the stand was Officer Tritschler, who identified himself as a member of the Denver Police Department’s Gang Unit. Officer Tritschler was assigned to an RDV, one of the riot trucks carrying riot gear clad police officers. There were three RDV vehicles present that night.

Tritschler has been a member of the Denver Police Department for 16 years. He has been assigned to the Gang Unit for 3. On the night of May 6, as the March Against Police Terror was underway, Officer Tritschler was and the other officers assigned to his RDV were assigned to “shadow” the march. They used the parking lot of the Denver Health hospital as a staging area and followed the march as it entered the streets at 8th and Speer. They were told to be on alert in case of the need for “mass arrests” or “riot control” arose.

There were 8 other officers assigned to Tritschler’s RDV, a driver and a commander inside the vehicle, and 7 officers including Tritschler hanging onto the outside of the vehicle, ready for deploy “at a moment’s notice.”

The rest of Officer Tritschler’s comments were in reference to what happened after the march attempted to head back to the Santa Fe Arts District to disperse. Tritschler described that the march had ended and participants had dispersed starting at 12th and Kalamath. His unit was ordered to stay at 11th and Kalamath and await orders. It was at this intersection that Officer Tritschler claims that he saw three individuals outside of the Greeley Elementary School. He said his attention was fixed on them because they were all dressed in black hooded sweatshirts.

Officer Tritschler claims that as he was observing the individuals, one of them, a taller person with what appeared to be a “mohawk haircut” could be seen pulling out and lighting a 6 inch long white tube. He then was asked if the suspect was present in the courtroom, and he responded affirmatively, identifying Amelia as the suspect.

Officer Tritschler testified that he saw a fuse sparkling in the night light, and that the suspect then proceeded to throw the object at a patrol car nearby occupied by Officer Sherwood. Officer Tritschler claims that he yelled “M-80!” at Officer Sherwood to warn him of the object.

Tritschler testified that the object exploded in front of the car, with “a small report” and then bounced on top of the car’s hood “and detonated with a loud concussion.” He described the explosion as having come from a “low order explosive”. Tritschler then went on to describe his past military training in explosives, and how he was trained to recognize improvised explosives and other ordinance while in the Armed Forces. He further detailed training that he has received since 9/11 from the Denver Police Department including attending a police department explosives school.

Tritschler described the difference between low and high order explosives. He stated that the explosion he witnessed was not made by a “firecracker” but by a “larger, but low order, explosive”.

Tritschler testified that he was 30-35 feet away from the suspect who threw the “explosive” and Officer Sherwood’s car was 15 feet away in the #3 lane (right lane) while his vehicle was in the #2 lane (center). He described the explosion as “very deep” and stated that he felt a concussion. He stated that it reminded him of a grenade simulator. He saw “sparks” and “smoke” come from the device as it detonated, and claimed that the smoke and sparks traveled some 30 feet into the air.

Tritschler testified that he felt he “was in danger of injury or death”. At this point there was an objection from Amelia’s counsel, Harvey Steinberg, which was sustained by the judge, though it was unclear exactly what the objection was to.

Tritschler next described the foot chase to apprehend the suspect, though Tritschler admitted that he neither checked on the occupants of the “targeted” car to see if there was any damage or if anyone was injured. Tritschler also was not one of the arresting officers, and testified that other officers had reached the suspect before he could.

During the cross examination of Officer Tritschler by Mr. Steinberg, a dramatic back and forth unfolded. The first questions from Mr. Steinberg were directed at Tritschler’s indifference to the “victims” of the “bomb”. He asked Mr. Tritschler if he had observed any damage to the car or the street from the “bomb”. Tritschler repeatedly stated that he was not looking for damage. Finally Tritschler admitted that he had not seen any damage to the vehicle or the street.

Tritschler then admitted that the explosion from the device hadn’t noticeably knocked anyone to the ground or injured anyone around him, though he repeatedly emphasized that he hadn’t checked to see if anyone was injured.

A back and forth exchange then developed over Tritschler’s description of the device, with particular attention paid to the term “M-80”. Tritschler was asked to describe what an M-80 was for the court, and Tritschler responded that he could only describe what a “military-grade M-80” looked like, but could not describe a “commercial style M-80” as he had never seen one. After some pressing from Mr. Steinberg, Tritschler admitted that he was indeed familiar with the “commercial style M-80”.

An objection from the prosecution was sustained, and Mr. Steinberg turned his focus to what Officer Tritschler and the other officers were wearing and armed with that night. Tritschler testified that all of the officers assigned to his RDV were wearing Kevlar helmets with face shields, and other protective armor. He testified that he was assigned a 40mm pepper ball gun and that all of the officers were equipped with their standard sidearms (pistols and revolvers).

Tritschler then testified that the three suspicious people he had observed earlier were not blocking traffic and were standing on the sidewalk. Mr. Steinberg pressed this issue a bit, seemingly to draw attention to the lack of a “riot” occurring.

When the assistant District Attorney was allowed a re-direct questioning, she only focused on the M-80 issue. Mr. Steinberg declined to ask any further questions and Officer Tritschler was dismissed.

The only other witness called by the prosecution was Denver Police Detective Randy Parsons. Detective Parsons has been a police officer for 11 years and has been assigned to the Assaults Bureau for 4 years.

Detective Parsons was the lead police investigator covering the march of May 6th, and the resulting criminal complaint. Parsons was responsible for reviewing any and all reports and statements from officers present in the streets and determining the course of action for charges and issuing a comprehensive report of the incident that occurred.

The primary victim identified by Detective Parsons was Officer Thomas Sherwood. Parsons described receiving a phone call from Officer Sherwood a week or so after the incident.

Detective Parsons also described receiving a phone call from someone he later identified as being Amelia’s mother, and that she had alerted him to the presence of a YouTube video of the march, seemingly thinking that this piece of evidence would help clear her daughter. The video did not offer any new evidence that would help Amelia’s case, but did instead become a piece of evidence that helped prosecutors describe the setting and the “riotous” conditions surrounding the march.

In the video, Parsons could identify Amelia as being present within the march. He then described the march mood of the march and the slogans that were present on banners and signs. He said that the march had “something to do with an incident involving a gentleman named Marvin Booker”. (editor’s note: Detective Parsons refused to state anything regarding the incident where Denver Sheriff’s Deputies MURDERED Marvin Booker in the jail, just downstairs from where this very hearing was taking place.)

Parsons then described reviewing a statement from Officer Denke, a member of the SCAT Team who was monitoring the march. Denke was said to have described an incident on the 16th Street Mall where a female suspect with a mohawk and black hoodie and red bandana spit in the direction of Denke. Parsons testified that Denke later identified the “bomb-thrower” as the same person.

Denke was said to then describe another incident where the same suspect pulled out a long white cylindrical object out of the backpack of an unidentified person in the march, near 13th and Champa, which he described as roughly 5 blocks away from 11th and Kalamath, where that suspect would later through the object at police.

Parsons further testified about the actual incident, describing that Sherwood had reported that he saw the device, but there was no mention of who lit it in the statement that Parsons had reviewed. The device was reported to have been thrown, and bounced off the “A-frame” of the car, narrowly missing the open window. Parsons stated that the device was very close to having landed inside the car through the open window.

Parsons testified that after a short foot chase that Sherwood took the suspect into custody. They were able to identify the suspect based off the recorded phone calls between the suspect and her mother. He affirmed that Amelia was the only person arrested at the protest that night.

Parsons then testified that no HALO cameras exist at 11th and Kalamath. (Editor’s note: there is indeed a HALO camera there, and it is in a position that should have been able to record the whole incident in question.)

During the cross examination, Parsons again confirmed that he was the lead detective and had reviewed any and all documents that he knew existed.

Parsons admitted that not a single statement or report indicated that there was any “reportable” damage to any vehicles, property, or the street.

Mr. Steinberg forced Parsons to admit that there was “zero damage” caused by the detonation of the device.

Mr. Steinberg then directed Detective Parsons to review several of the statements from officers that he had previously reviewed. Parsons confirmed that they were indeed the statements he had reviewed. Mr. Steinberg then directed Detective Parsons to a report written by Officer Tobin, describing the device as a small “firecracker”. Parsons confirmed that the statement from Tobin indeed used that description of the device.

Mr. Steinberg then asked Parsons to review the original statement from Officer Sherwood. Parsons admitted that Sherwood’s statement never mentioned the device hitting the car’s “A-frame” despite what Parsons had earlier testified to. The statement also never mentioned that the device nearly entered the car. Instead, the statement noted that the device detonated in front of the vehicle. The statement didn’t even mention Sherwood’s car window being rolled down. All of the statements Parsons reviewed indicated that the device detonated in front of the car, and not a single one mentioned the device nearly landing inside the car.

Parsons then again confirmed that there was no reportable damage to the vehicle or anything else. Parsons also testified that there was no broken glass or accelerant found at the scene, despite the claims in the media that the device was a Molotov cocktail. He described that there were small cardboard shards found, and that they were currently in the custody of the lab, though no lab results were available or have been released.

Parsons testified that when Amelia was arrested, the only evidence found on her person were two small spray-paint cans. There were no matches, lighters, or any similar implement found on Amelia at the time of her arrest, and no such items were found by officers during a search of the area.

Parsons stated that there were no reports made of Amelia “ditching, throwing, or getting rid of” anything during the foot chase with officers.

During the re-direct questioning, the Assistant DA focused on the two other people that officers had described as being with the suspect at the time the device was thrown. Parsons stated that no contact was made with any suspects other than Amelia.

There was some attention paid to the time at which Sherwood wrote his statement. It was written at 2140, just minutes after Amelia’s arrest. It would later be noted during a further cross examination by Mr. Steinberg that it had taken Sherwood nearly 10 minutes (until 2150) to write a statement that was less than a page long.

Parsons was then dismissed.

There was no more evidence presented by the prosecution. Mr. Steinberg made a closing argument that all charges should be dropped, as there was no evidence provided by the DA’s office that fulfilled any of the necessary requirements of moving forward with these charges, and that these charges were instead political in nature. “There is a message being sent here that this is what happens when you challenge the authority of the Denver Police Department.”

The judge then reviewed the written police statements and concluded that there was no evidence for any charges other than charges 5, 8, 9, and 10. Charge 5 is possession of an explosive. Charges 8,9, and 10 are misdemeanor charges.

A brief argument occurred over setting a new bond, and the judge issued a new bond amount set at $5,000, down significantly from the previous $50,000.

This report is not complete, and there were some other exchanges during the hearing, but this report represents the bulk of the testimony presented.

For more support information, and news on this case as it becomes available, please keep checking

In love and solidarity!

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