Leadville news: Lake County deputy accused of Tasing kids resigns
summit daily news
LAKE COUNTY – The deputy accused of shocking 30 students with a Taser at a Leadville job fair earlier this month is confirmed to have resigned.
John Ortega, who served since August 2008 as a Lake County deputy, resigned four days after the April 8 incident, Lake County Sheriff Edward Holte confirmed.
District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said Tuesday that an investigation of the incident is complete, but a decision has not been made regarding filing of criminal charges. He said the decision will be made in “the next couple days.”
Ortega had been suspended for a week with pay immediately after the incident on the Lake County High School playground in which some students sustained burns – of varying degrees – to their legs. At least one student was treated for burns at St. Vincent General Hospital in Leadville, according to a report in the Denver Post.
The close-range, drive-stun technique Ortega reportedly used on the students involved touching the gun to a person rather than firing the two small darts normally deployed.
The deputy reportedly had declined earlier requests from the students to have the Taser used on them, but agreed after students said they’d be willing to sign release forms, according to the Denver Post.
In an unrelated incident, Hurlbert’s office has filed charges against Lake County deputy Steve James in the March 27 arrest of a Leadville fire department captain who was trying to treat a woman with a broken neck.
“We felt that there were significant public safety issues with arresting a firefighter just trying to do his job,” Hurlbert said.
No charges were filed against the fire captain. As of April 15, James faces misdemeanors of obstructing medical personnel, and first-degree official misconduct and interference in public buildings, Hurlbert said.
The incident began when fire captain Dan Dailey responded to an emergency call at the sheriff’s office, where the woman had driven herself to report domestic abuse and ask for medical care.
James and another deputy, who’d expected only an ambulance crew, told Dailey to leave. When he didn’t, he was put in jail, according to a previous report in the Denver Post.
The incident was fueled by an ongoing dispute between the fire department and sheriff’s office over administration of emergency services in the county.
Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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