COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO- Police body worn camera footage accidentally discovered to defendants in the March 26, 2017, protest cases, has revealed a mysterious side story at the Colorado Springs Socialists’ “March Against Imperialism”. At that march, six participants were cited for marching in the street. Meanwhile, a curious seventh was detained, driven off, but not cited. CSPD Officer Krueger’s body-cam recorded what happened and more.
What happened at the March 26 rally, beside the police dispersing a fully legal assembly? This video documents that the CSPD tried to give deeper cover to a team of El Paso County Sheriff’s plainclothes operatives, by giving one of them the credibility of an arrest. In truth, it worked for three weeks and several socialist actions, until the undercover team spooked everyone with their excessively sketchy zeal. As the March 26 evidence was released to defendants, the contradictory police reports began to accrue. Then a file labeled KRUEGER BODY-CAM emerged.
The first thing you see is the twenty or so protesters, clad in black, waving red flags, rallying on the steps of Colorado Springs City Hall. Speakers are railing against capitalism and imperialism. CSPD Officer Krueger comes upon this scene, among the reinforcements called, because fourteen of the protesters, mostly masked, were observed to have marched on the street.
(Marchers had followed Nevada to Bijou to Tejon to Colorado back to Nevada, trailed by the cruisers of CSPD Officers Mark Keller and Roberto Williamson. Returning to City Hall, participants were told by CSPD Sergeant Clayton Blackwell that they could protest on the sidewalk but would be ticketed if they stepped back into the street.)
As the rally goes on, the officers hear that orders have changed and everyone is going to be ticketed. On camera, Officer Keller relates a possible motive: “LT wants everyone identified.”
(Most of the protesters are masked. Arrests will give police the pretext to register everyone’s identity, whether the person walked in the street or not. By “LT”, Keller may be refering to Lieutenant Webber, who dispatched officers to the scene, or Lieutenant Mark Comte, in charge of CSPD intelligence.)
As officers discuss whether to rush the group or detain two or three protesters at a time, CSPD Sergeant Blackwell discloses to his men: “There’s two UCs in there, and they’ll just take a ticket like everybody else.” Blackwell adds, jokingly: “So hopefully we don’t have to start spraying ‘cause I don’t know which ones they are.”
Officer Keller tells Krueger and Canaan he thinks one of the protesters is concealing a knife. He fingers a masked protester wearing a Carhartt jacket.
Officers Krueger and Canaan are formally instructed that when the move is made to issue citations to the protesters, they are to apprehend “Carhartt”.
In fact, the first planned arrestee of March 26 is “Carhartt”. Aka the sheriff’s undercover.
Officers encircle the rally as Sergeants Ingram and Blackwell tell the socialists that “Everyone is getting a ticket!”
When the officers confront “Carhartt” he loudly abuses them with expletives proclaiming his innocence. He does this to incite fellow protesters to resist the police effort to detain him. Everybody else however is either walking swiftly away or calmly accepting their citations for Pedestrian-in-the-Roadway and Failure-to-Disperse.
Officers Krueger and Canaan ask “Carhartt” whether he has a weapon. The suspect responds with a strange command, voiced between clenched teeth: “Pat me down at the car.”
Krueger and Canaan walk “Carhartt” to their cruiser where he admits he has a weapon, a “M&P Shield 9mm”. He alerts the officers that his gun is tucked into his front waistline, with the safety off. In his pocket the officers find an additional magazine clip.
(Let us reflect for a moment, that only Officer Keller knew about this undercover. Imagine if events had escalated and any of the other dozens of police officers had caught a glimpse of the undercover’s gun. What kind of trigger-happy confrontation could have resulted with the socialist marchers caught in the middle? We might also wonder what Carhartt intended to do with two magazines full of bullets.)
Officer Canaan unloads the 9mm, removes the bullet from the chamber, and places everything on the front seat.
The officers ask “Carhartt” whether he wants to be cited and released on the spot, or taken to be booked at the station? The detainee responds he wants to go wherever the other arrestees are being processed.
Asked whether he has a concealed carry permit “Carhartt” replies no.
It occurs to the officers that they can’t catch and release someone, however cooperative, if they’ve apprehended you carrying a concealed weapon without a permit.
Officer Krueger leaves to consult his supervisor Sergeant Blackwell about this arrestee who is carrying a gun without a permit.
Blackwell asks Krueger: “Is he one of our UCs?” He explains again: “We have two UCs. Do you recognize him?”
Krueger says no.
Blackwell comes to the cruiser to see for himself.
Blackwell doesn’t recognize the detainee either.
As Sergeant Blackwell walks away from the cruiser, he tells Krueger the suspect is not one of their UCs, then he ponders: “…unless he’s with the sheriff’s office?”
The suspect gives his name as Mark Jackson, d.o.b. 7/20/75, last digits of SS# 1033, phone number (281) 606-0532. All of which is probably phony.
(“Amy Walter” kept her cover for months after the arrests. She claimed to drive up from Pueblo and only appeared fully bloc’d up. She’s gregarious and eager, and speaks with an Eastern European accent.)
Jackson remains detained in the back seat. After a few minutes CSPD Officer Mark Keller comes to the window to look at the suspect. He walks off camera, probably to tell Sergeant Blackwell that he can confirm the detainee is indeed an undercover.
Blackwell returns shortly to the cruiser to tell Krueger “We’re good.” Lowering his voice, he adds: “He’s UC.”
After some thought, Krueger turns to Jackson and asks in a whisper: ”Are you with the Sheriffs?” The undercover answers in the affirmative.
Krueger turns off his body-cam.
The body-cam worn by Krueger’s partner, Officer Canaan, has all the while recorded the same sequence of events, but he wasn’t paying attention to the whispers, so his camera continues to record.
Officer Keller walks back to the cruiser, this time to tease the undercover. Keller leans in and jokes about the arrest he arranged by pretending to suspect that Jackson had a knife.
Keller begins: “You really should hang out with a better crowd.”
Mocks Jackson: “I know. ‘Fuck the Police’. Ha ha.”
Keller goes on: “Hey, youse in the street, I figured you should get a ticket like everybody else.”
The undercover then says: “That’s why I yelled ‘COME FUCKING ARREST ME!’”
The two then discuss whether the undercover’s female partner should also be ticketed. Jackson theorizes that one ticket is enough.
Meanwhile an unspoken decision is made not to carry through with Jackson’s citation. This disturbs the undercover. He asks “How will it look when I don’t get a ticket?”
Undercover Jackson then notices that Officer Canaan did not grasp the development. He tells Krueger “You better tell your partner what’s going on.” Canaan turns off the audio on his body-cam.
To recap. Sergeant Blackwell revealed that the city had two UCs planted in the Socialist march. Officer Keller knew of the undercover Sheriff’s deputies “Jackson” and “Walter”. An effort was orchestrated to give a citation to “Jackson” but that plan was aborted. Wouldn’t it be interesting to know why?
Jackson’s detainment did not generate officer reports from either Krueger or Canaan, but the alias “Mark Jackson” was listed in three places. 1) on the March 26 police blotter, 2) in the radio log as “Mark Jackson in custody”, and 3) mentioned in passing in the report filed by Officer Roberto Williamson.
For three weeks “Mark Jackson” continued to infiltrate the socialist group, participating in several counterprotests, until everyone gave him the cold shoulder. His partner “Amy Walter” continues to contact group members.
The infiltration operation is extraordinary when you consider that the “Colorado Springs Socialists” essentially comprises the UCCS Socialist Discussion Group, a year-old student club chartered at the school. Though the students sometimes conceal themselves bandanas and hoodies when they attend social justice protests, they’ve committed zero acts of rioting, violence, or property destruction.
Once the video files had been released to the March 26 defendants, city prosecutors fought tooth and nail to quash the defendants’ subpoenas to the officers involved. The judge refused to review the body-cam footage, explaining that the El Paso Sheriffs Office had the discretion to refuse to provide further information.
Defendants insisted the prosecution was obligated to produce all the witnesses it knew to be on the scene of the alleged offenses, whether the witnesses were uniformed police or undercover. But the court won’t concede that the undercover operation merits looking into. The city stresses the importance of detectives being able to remain undercover to monitor ongoing crimes, in this case, jaywalking. The defendants are charged with obstruction and failure to disperse. If those are the crimes worth embedding undercovers, then the officers ought to be summoned to the trial to testify and secure convictions.
The defendants risked just that by insisting that the undercovers come forward as witnesses, but that risk was worth what the defendants were really after. What were those undercovers doing at the rally and at the march? Were they leading marchers into the street? Were undercovers taunting the cops as a demonstration that the protesters heard police orders to get off the street. Most marchers did not hear any orders, nor see police do much other than block traffic for their procession, contrary to the tone set by undercover Mark Jackson’s “COME FUCKING ARREST ME”. To prove the charge of Failure to Disperse” the prosecution has to prove that the accused wilfully defied the police. Jackson’s words seem meant to stand in for that proof.
Likewise, was Jackson’s belligerant response to police trying to arrest him meant to spark more resistance? Very often, riot cops target their own infiltrators who know to act outraged and resistive so that the crowd responds protectively. Jackson was clearly trying to do that.
Most of all, defendants wanted to get to the bottom of CSPD’s complicated operation to set their undercovers up to “take a ticket like everybody else.” How many officer were involved, and why didn’t officers recognize each other? Are the undercovers in fact with the El Paso Sheriffs Office or are they intelligence contractors or government agents? Who was coordinating this infiltration operation and who decided to call off issuing the ticket?
Who above all, thought they needed to insert an armed undercover, or two, possibly four, in the midst of a peaceful anti-imperialism march? Could a socialist group’s reckless co-opting of city streets warrant an undercover team’s reckless endangerment of unsuspecting activists surounded by very likley PTSD-addled police officers?
Jackson’s jittery behavior while detained in the back of the police cruiser hardly gives you confidence that even he should be trusted to wield a gun.
The Krueger and Canaan body cam videos are circulating online. We’ll link to them as we locate stable copies. Below is an index of the events described above.
On the KRUEGER body-cam:
[0:45] Officer Mark Keller: “L.T. wants everyone identified.”
[3:05] Sergeant Clayton Blackwell: “There’s two UCs in there, and they’ll just take a ticket like everybody else. So hopefully we don’t have to start spraying ‘cause I don’t know which ones they are.”
[3:50] Off-camera officer: “Guy in the Carhartt [jacket] has a knife in his pocket.”
[9:00] Officers Krueger and Canaan discuss orders to arrest “Carhartt” suspected of carrying a knife.
[14:02] Sergeant John Ingram shouts: “Everyone is going to get a ticket!”
[15:20] Krueger and Canaan contact “Carhartt” who responds in a hostile and provocative manner. Unlike the other arrestees who are fully cooperative, he objects with loud profanity and derision.
[18:05] Krueger and Canaan discover “Carhartt” is armed with a 9mm handgun, tucked in his front waistband, and no concealed carry permit.
[20:04] Suspect gives his name as “Mark Jackson, d.o.b. 7/20/75”, and asks: “How do you know I was in the street?” Officer Canaan replies “An officer pointed you out. He’s been watching you the whole time.”
[23:38] Krueger consults Sgt. Blackwell who determines that “Jackson” is not one of their two UCs embedded in the march.
[28:56] Off camera Sgt. Blackwell tells Krueger “He’s U.C.”
[29:20] “Mark Jackson” admits he is with Sheriff’s Office.
[29:50] Krueger turns off body-cam.
On the CANAAN body-cam:
[16:41] Officer Dustin Canaan unloads the detainee’s “M&P Shield 9mm” and places gun, magazines, and extra bullet on front seat.
[22:02] Officer Mark Keller approaches cruiser to take a look at the detainee’s face.
[24:52] Sergeant Blackwell taps on cruiser window, says “We’re good.” Whispers to Krueger (inaudible, but it’s on the Krueger cam where we hear: “He’s UC”)
[25:03] Officer Keller returns to cruiser to joke with “Mark Jackson” about having arranged his fake arrest. Says Keller: “Hey, you’se in the street, I figured you should get a ticket like everybody else.” To which Jackson replies: “That’s why I said ‘Come fucking arrest me!’”
[25:25] Keller discusses with Jackson whether or not to ticket his female partner.
[26:27] Canaan turns off the audio of his body-cam.