Man accused of assaulting Dillon police officer in 2017 pleads guilty
James Morrow, 26, of Breckenridge, who was accused of assaulting a Dillon police officer last year, accepted a plea deal in Summit County Court on Monday, admitting guilt on charges of assaulting a peace officer and resisting arrest.
At about 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 15, law enforcement agents from the Summit County Sheriff’s Office and the Dillon Police Department responded to a call of a suspicious person walking and lying in the road, possibly inebriated, in the Straight Creek neighborhood in Dillon.
When officers first made contact with the man, later identified as Morrow, he was stumbling in the street and answering questions incoherently, according to his warrantless arrest probable cause statement. When asked to get out of the street and to provide identification, officers described Morrow as evasive and uncooperative. A sergeant with the Dillon PD attempted to detain Morrow by putting him in handcuffs for the safety of the officers involved, at which point Morrow became violent, throwing the sergeant to the ground and punching and kicking another officer.
Additional officers arrived on scene shortly after and successfully arrested Morrow. After his arrest, Morrow also admitted to “huffing” paint, and told officers he was currently on ketamine, a schedule III controlled substance. Morrow was transported to Summit Medical Center to be medically cleared, and was subsequently taken to Summit County Jail without further incident. Morrow was originally booked on two counts of assault in the second degree on a peace officer, obstructing a peace officer and resisting arrest.
The sergeant who was thrown to the ground suffered a fractured humerus, the bone between the elbow and shoulder, and was transferred to Summit Medical Center for treatment. The officer has undergone several surgeries since the incident, and could potentially face long-term physical limitations as a result of the assault, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
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At the hearing Morrow pled guilty to second-degree assault of a peace officer, a class-4 felony, along with a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest. The assault carries a presumptive penalty of two-to-six years in prison, along with a potential fine of $2,000-to-$500,000. Morrow is scheduled to appear in court for his sentencing hearing on Jan. 28 at 1 p.m.
The prosecution of individuals who assault police officers has become a growing point of concern for Brown and his office in recent years as violence against law enforcement officials around the country continues to become more common. Just last month, 21-year-old Nathan Finnegan was charged with three felonies — including two counts of first-degree assault on a peace officer and one count of criminal mischief — stemming from an altercation with police in July that hospitalized a Breckenridge officer. Additionally, Robert Larson is set to head to trial in February for allegedly assaulting a Sheriff’s deputy last year.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted program, there have been 49 officers feloniously killed this year (Nov. 2 statistic), compared to just 38 during that same period last year. Also of note is that last year saw more than 60,200 non-federal law enforcement agents — about one out of every 10 officers — assaulted while on duty, the highest mark in the country since at least 1996, the last year the FBI has readily available data.
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