Trailhead Shoots Wild in Senate 11

The Trailhead Group has fired a wild potshot at Democrat John Morse, who is running in Colorado Springs’ Senate District 11 against incumbent Ed Jones in one of the top targeted races in Colorado this year.

Morse expected such attacks — though last week he said he had no idea what sort of misleading things about his past would appear. This week the Denver-based group 527, founded by Gov. Bill Owens, beer magnate Pete Coors and oilman Bruce Benson, began airing an ad attacking Morse for his service while chief of police in the City of Fountain, south of Colorado Springs. The ominously-worded ad is airing every three to four hours, on KVOR in Colorado Springs, an AM talk radio station. This is how it goes:

”Where does State Senate candidate John Morse stand on the issues facing Coloradans?

Morse has no record on key issues like education, immigration and water rights. In his campaign, Morse talks about his record as a police officer and police chief in the city of Fountain. So let’s look at Morse’s performance as police chief. While Morse was Police Chief his department handled a case of man charged with attempted murder, shooting at police and more than a dozen other felonies. The suspect received a plea bargain for one misdemeanor. All 15 felony charges were dismissed because of mishandled police reports.

What was Morse’s explanation for the poor management of the case. When questioned, he said Morse said he does not generally review police reports filed by his officers and had not reviewed them in this case.

John Morse, no record on important issues and a record of incompetence as Police Chief.

Paid for by the Trailhead Group, not associated with any candidate or committee.

Gee, the Trailhead Group, not associated with any candidate? Guess they just decided to spend perfectly good money trashing Morse, just for the heck of it. It’s not like they approve of Morse’s opponent, right? After all, Jones, a conservative African-American actually sponsored unsuccessful legislation to ban affirmative action, and has taken a host of controversial positions on other legislation over the past four years, as detailed last week by Colorado Confidential.

The radio ad follows a push-poll that was conducted last week designed clearly to benefit Jones. So what does Morse have to say about the story behind his “incompetence” as a police chief?

The incident in question, Morse says, occurred on the early morning of Oct. 31 2003. A report came in about a potentially suicidal man who had learned his wife had had an affair. The police looked for the man for 36 hours, before a call came in at about 4:30 a.m. that he was home. Three officers went to his house, walked up to the door, which was open. The screen door was closed, but they could see the man inside and began talking to him. He slammed the door shut and at that point they heard him chamber around a semi-automatic handgun.

“That wasn’t a good sign, obviously,” Morse says.

The officers scattered around the house to see how they would make contact with the man, who at some point, either from inside or outside cranked off a round over the head of one of the officers. It was clear to the officers, Morse says, that the man was attempting to do a suicide by cop. The man went back inside, and the officers heard another shot fired. They thought the guy must have finished himself off, and waited for the cavalry to arrive. The SWAT team showed up, and a Colorado Springs Police Department robot was dispatched to the window of the house, showing the man laying there, with what looked like blood trickling out of his mouth. The SWAT team flashbanged their way inside.

“Turns out he was just drunk,” Morse said. “They took him into custody and the hospital and he got psychiatric treatment.”

The man initially was charged with attempted murder of a police officer, but the officer indicated that she would not be able to, beyond a reasonable doubt, testify that the man purposely shot at her. The charge was reduced to reckless endangerment and felony menacing, and, following an investigation by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Morse and his officers were not only exonerated from any wrongdoing, but praised for going above and beyond the call of duty — and not shooting a suicidal man.

Maybe the Trailhead Group should explain their rationale — that the former police chief is “incompetent” — to the man who, because of the quick actions taken by his officers, is alive today .

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Cara Degette

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