Saturday, April 20

Mesa clerk Tina Peters arrested, released in Grand Junction

Officers were serving a warrant to seize Tina Peters’ iPad on which she is suspected of improperly recording a court hearing.

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters (R) was arrested and released Tuesday morning by Grand Junction police.

Officers were responding to a request to assist local prosecutors with an active investigation, per a statement from the Grand Junction Police Department.

According to a court documents, officers served a warrant to seize Peters’ iPad on which she is suspected of improperly recording a Monday court hearing involving her deputy clerk, Belinda Knisley, after a judge prohibited recording in the courtroom.

Peters denied to the judge that she was recording the hearing but an arrest warrant says “the iPadOS camera application was open, distinguishable with the red record button” and that an observer “saw that the view in the viewfinder was a live view of the courtroom .”

Video obtained by 9NEWS shows three officers approach Peters inside of a bagel shop around 10:45 am Tuesday. She repeatedly yells “let go of me” to the officers and appears to struggle with them before they all walk outside.

Peters was released on scene and charges are pending, per police.

In the hours after, a public information officer Grand Junction Police Department said people have called 911 to comment on the arrest. Police ask that people stop using emergency and non-emergency lines for this reason.

Peters’ arrest is separate from the investigations into a security breach involving Mesa County’s election equipment. Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser and Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubenstein announced last month that a grand jury will consider charges against Peters for her alleged involvement in the breach, which resulted in the county’s election data ending up online.

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Knisley is facing burglary and cybercrime charges. According to an affidavit, she went into the clerk’s office in late August when she was on administrative leave for “inappropriate, unprofessional conduct in the workplace.” She is also accused of using a computer in Peters’ office while Peters away after the security breach went public.

Steve Bannon, a Peters ally and former advisor to President Donald Trump, called Colorado law enforcement “the Gestapo” on his show on Tuesday evening following the arrest. “We’re taking over these election boards. This is a shot across the bow,” he said. He was joined on the program by Coloradan and election conspiracy theorist Shawn Smith who said, “This is the use of state violence by tyrants.”

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold has barred Peters from overseeing elections in the county in the wake of the security breach investigations. Peters recently announced plans to run for a second term.

9NEWS reached out to Colorado Republican Party Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown to ask if she has confidence in Peters’ ability to run a free and fair election and if she believes Peters should resign. In a statement to 9NEWS, Burton Brown said: “As we’ve said from the beginning, the Colorado Republican Party believes in law and order. We believe the legal process should work its way out. Voters certainly deserve to have confidence in their elected officials.”

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