Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters charged with obstructing an officer

Stina Sieg/CPR News
Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters has faced controversy since she questioned the legitimacy of Dominion voting machines and allegedly allowed a nonemployee access to the voting machines. She was later barred from overseeing the 2021 election.

Updated 11:47a.m. February 10, 2022: This story has been updated to note that Tina Peters turned herself in to authorities.

The Mesa County District Attorney’s Office charged the county’s Republican Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters with obstructing an officer, a misdemeanor, after she resisted the Grand Junction Police’s efforts to help the DA’s office search her iPad.

Peters turned herself in to authorities Thursday morning and immediately posted a $500 bail, according to the Mesa County Sheriff's Office. She was released with orders to appear in court at a later date. The Sheriff's office said Peters was also charged with "Obstructing Government Operations."

This all began when the District Attorney’s office was seeking evidence of whether Peters recorded a criminal court proceeding earlier this week, against courtroom rules and then lied to the judge about it.

Peters was at a bagel shop in downtown Grand Junction on Tuesday when investigators from the district attorney’s office arrived with a warrant to search her iPad. According to an arrest warrant released by the Grand Junction Police Wednesday, Peters refused to hand it over and was “actively resisting” officers.

Video from a witness shared by 9News shows Peters trying to pull away from officers as they restrain her arms, and shouting “let go of me” repeatedly at police. 

“It hurts. Let go of me, give me my keys.”

She then appeared to kick at the officer, who responded, “Do not kick, do you understand?” 

After more shouting and back and forth Peters was eventually led outside. 

The affidavit states that Peters continued to resist officers as she was led out of the shop and at one point, “was just going limp, and attempted to crumple to the sidewalk.” 

Peters was handcuffed and an officer asked her to sit in the back of the patrol vehicle. 

“Once inside the patrol vehicle and out of view of the multiple people recording this interaction on cell phones, the suspect calmed down immediately.” 

The officer who composed the affidavit wrote that Peter’s asked, “If I knew what I was doing and then stated that I was assisting (U.S. Attorney General) Merrick Garland.”

The affidavit also said the District Attorney’s office had enough evidence to charge her with tampering with evidence, a felony, but used their discretion not to do so.

Peters’ legal defense fund, which was started to defend her in the election investigation, released a statement accusing officers of provoking the situation by going beyond the bounds of their warrant.

“The officers took custody of the iPad, but they also handcuffed Peters and wrestled her car keys away from her,” it claims. “The warrant did not allow the officers to search Clerk Peters’ car after the iPad was taken — which Clerk Peters clearly stated.”

The statement said Peters was left with bruises and injuries from the officers’ treatment, which it characterized as manhandling.

Grand Junction Police dispute that assertion that the keys were taken in order to search Peters’ car; they said she had the keys in her hand as they were trying to take her into custody, and officers took them away as a standard procedure. 

“When we realized that they were not returned to her when she was released from our custody, we contacted her and her attorneys so we could make arrangements to return them to her,” the department said in a statement.

This week's incident started with the alleged courtroom recording and is separate from the ongoing investigation into Peters’ role in an election security breach in her office, for which a grand jury is currently considering potential criminal charges.

In the election security case, Peters is accused of allowing an unauthorized person to make copies of sensitive voting machine hard drives. Information from the voting machines and secure passwords were later shared with election conspiracy theorists online.  

She has maintained she has every right to investigate election fraud. And even as Peters was sitting in the back of the patrol car this week she brought the topic up.

“She continued talking about something pertaining to the election as I closed the patrol car,” wrote the officer, “but this was indiscernible as she was almost whispering once in the car.”