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August 3, 2004 - The Summit Daily News (CO)

Couple Awaiting Apology

By Jane Stebbins

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

FRISCO - Katie Rhodes and Josh Brudwick are awaiting an apology they feel is becoming overdue.

"The offer's on the table," said Summit County Sheriff John Minor.

The two were the victims of a drug bust gone awry July 25 when Summit County Drug Task Force members handcuffed them at a local restaurant and ransacked their Frisco condo looking for the makings of a crystal methamphetamine lab.

They found nothing, and left behind a mess of broken doors and strewn clothing and trash.

John Minor, in a joint interview last week with Frisco Police Chief Tom Wickman and Undersheriff Derek Woodman, said he would personally apologize and deliver a check to cover the cost of damage to the condo. That cost has yet to be determined.

Minor said he spoke with Rhodes' mother, Judith, and offered to apologize to her daughter in person, present the check and offer counseling for the couple. He hasn't heard back.

Attorney Tim Mienert, who is representing Rhodes and Brudwick, said he hasn't heard from anyone yet.

"We don't know what's going to happen," he said. "This only happened a week ago. Anything is possible; it takes time for these kinds of things to develop."

Not much has developed, although a lot of questions remain.

The Sheriff's Office is still waiting for test results taken from the scene, notably those in the garage where officers said it smelled of a flammable solution.

Flammable materials are often used in the production of crystal meth - and are often to blame for lab explosions.

"We still don't have any answer for the odors," Woodman said. "We speculated the Jeep might have had some sort of gas leak, but there was no evidence on the ground."

They have since heard that a man Frisco police said was leaving the apartment with a duffel bag and a trash bag might have been a neighbor heading out on a camping trip. The officer who witnessed that is out of town, so they are unable to follow up on that until his return.

Many in the community are critical of the operation.

"It's kind of hard to say this fell apart," Woodman said of the raid. "It still goes back to the information we had at the time. We reacted to that information in what we felt was the appropriate fashion. I don't want to say the information was inaccurate, but certainly the end result was not anticipated."

Some wonder how this ordeal might affect Minor's bid for election. The primary, which will effectively decide the sheriff's election, is set for Aug. 10. Minor faces his former jail captain, Mike Phibbs.

That election has been acrimonious from the start, when then-Sheriff Joe Morales quit to take on a position at the state. The Board of County Commissioners appointed Minor over Phibbs; Minor fired Phibbs a few days later in what is officially termed a personnel matter protected by the Open Records Act.

Minor can't talk about the incident under penalty of law. Phibbs could open his records, but declines because he says they are "inaccurate." Minor said he would gladly talk about the issue were Phibbs to give the go-ahead.

Minor said he is concentrating his efforts on his job, not the election.

"I'm a cop first and a politician second - and reluctantly, because it (politics) enables me to do the job I love," Minor said.

"Police work is contentious. You're not going to make all the people you serve happy. I have yet to see a person jump for joy and say, 'I'm happy I'm going to jail today.' If people don't like what happened here, they can vote that way."

Minor defends his task force's actions.

"A lot of people come up to me and say, 'You had to go. You had to check it out.'" he said. "If we hadn't, it could have been worse. I'm not going to stop being a cop. That's just who I am."

The stress of the politics involved is nothing compared to life on the street, Minor said.

"I've had to tell a mother her 16-year-old was killed by a drunk driver," he said. "I've had to do CPR on a 2-year-old while his mother was behind me begging me to save his life. I've had people defecate in the back seat of my patrol car, people try to take my head off. Being a politician is nothing compared to working the streets."

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