Video: Mitt Romney supporter handcuffed, cited at rally blasts Jeffco Sheriff's office
Regan Benson is a supporter of Mitt Romney, but she's not a big fan of the law enforcement officials in charge at the candidate's recent Colorado rally. Benson says that when she was trying to get to her car after the Sunday night campaign event ended, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office refused to let her pass, handcuffed her, detained her for half an hour and told her she could get shot by Secret Service if she didn't cooperate.
Big photos below.
Here's a short video, which Benson began filming on her camera as officers started arguing with her. She kept it running for about a minute and a half until the battery died. Regan says things only got worse after that. It's too dark to see much of anything in the footage, but the audio is quite clear.
The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office tells a different story than Benson in its official reports. Documents maintain that she was purposely causing a scene at the end of the rally and officers had to restrain her when she tried to violate a Secret Service order to keep the crowd in a certain area while Romney's motorcade left D'Evelyn Junior/Senior High School, where the Republican presidential nominee had been speaking.
Benson, who does public education advocacy work, has gotten attention in the past for various free speech efforts. In February, she clashed with the Colorado Board of Education over the expulsion of her son, who'd earlier gotten into trouble for wearing a shirt that said "Border Patrol." Previously, another of Benson's sons made headlines after he was arrested and suspended for wearing a "Nobama" shirt at a Michelle Obama event. The ACLU represented the teen in this last case, ultimately winning a settlement.
Now, Benson is arguing that the sheriff's office seriously mistreated her -- refusing to let her get to her car and ultimately roughing her up for no justifiable reason.
Courtesy of Regan Benson Regan Benson
After the rally, the crowd of thousands definitely created a confusing and somewhat chaotic bottleneck trying to exit the premises. Yours truly witnessed dozens of people hopping a fence to try and get out of the main section and make their way to their cars. But even after doing so, these people were still temporarily boxed in by officers, who told folks that they couldn't pass until Romney's motorcade left. Once it did, the crowd was free to walk through the parking lot to their cars.
We didn't witness Benson's confrontation, which probably occurred before we got to the other side of the fence.
"I'm still in shock," says Benson, 39. "This is insane."
Benson, who was at the rally with a younger son, age fourteen, and her friend Jen Raiffie, says the confrontation began as they were trying to get past officers en route to their car.
"It was just a wall of people. We walked through...and one deputy sheriff tried to stop me," she says. "He said, 'You're not going anywhere.'"
She says another deputy told her pretty much the same thing, then "threw his body into me to back me up."
A deputy told her she had to cooperate or she would be placed in cuffs. "I said, 'You have no reason to put me in handcuffs!'" she recalls.
The audio in the blurry video reveals a dramatic, and loud, confrontation. In the clip, an officer repeatedly tells her that she has to step back and she says, "I'm going to my car."
Then she says, "Get your hands off of me. Get your hands off of me!"
"You stand over here or you're going in handcuffs," a female officer says to her. "It's your choice."
The officer then counts to three before telling Benson to put her hands behind her back and starts to put her in handcuffs.
"You're like five minutes away from leaving," an officer says to her when Benson asks why they are holding people like this.
Some people are heard on the video shouting, "Let her go!"
At one point Benson shouts, "You don't have any reason to restrain me!"
"Yes, we do!" the officer says.
"No, you don't!" Benson shouts back. "Let me go! I want to go to my car!"
"It's either this or you could get shot by the Secret Service," an officer says to her, which seems to only escalate the tensions.
"Get shot? I could get shot?" Benson asks loudly, prompting a "Yes, ma'am" from the officer.
That's when the video cuts out.
Continue for the rest of Benson's story and the official response from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.