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Aspen teen in forceful arrest pleads guilty to charges

Mar 3, 2015

A video shot by a teenage bystander that shows the arrest of a 16-year-old boy went viral last month. Now, the teen is in court. On Monday, he pleaded guilty to resisting arrest and underage possession of marijuana.
Credit YouTube/Lauren Glendenning

The attorney who represents the teenager who was taken down forcefully in Aspen last month believes the police officer did not have probable cause to arrest him. Aspen Public Radio’s Carolyn Sackariason reports.

Instead of fighting the charges of underage marijuana possession and resisting arrest on the argument that Aspen Police officer Adam Loudon didn’t have probable cause to handcuff the high school student, he pleaded guilty on Monday.

Attorney Ryan Kalamaya says his client wants to move on with his life. The best way to do that was to take a deal offered by the district attorney's office.

The 16-year-old appeared in court in front of judge Gail Nichols. As part of the plea, two other charges — obstructing a peace officer and possession of marijuana paraphernalia — were dropped.

"Ultimately, the offer by the district attorney's office allows my client the path to control his own destiny and have the case dismissed, with no charges on his record. That’s our end goal."

The student was approached by Aspen Police officer Adam Loudon on Feb. 8 on the suspicion that he was rolling a joint at a bus stop near the high school. After not complying with Loudon’s demand to put his hands behind his back, he was handcuffed and taken to the ground. After a search, marijuana was found in the student’s backpack. But 14 officers who responded couldn’t find any evidence of a joint in the area.

“The officer did say that he smelled marijuana but he didn’t at any time in his report, and it’s lengthy, there are over 30 pages, and at no point did anyone target the backpack and say that there was anything so he was lucky in that respect. But lucky is not good enough under the constitution and it’s not probable cause.”

Aspen Police Chief Richard Pryor reviewed the case and has said he stands by Loudon’s response, based on the boy’s resistance.

If the student stays out of trouble for a year, the case will be completely dismissed. He will be on probation for one year, and is required to a write letter of apology to Loudon, pay court costs and perform community service.

On Monday morning, the student was accompanied by his mother, sister and niece. A high school counselor and an Aspen police resource officer were also there. They are expected to speak at the boy’s sentencing hearing on April 13.