El Paso County ranchers arrested on stalking charges after claims of racism go viral

Abigail Beckman/KRCC
Pikes Peak at sunset.

The Rocky Mountain NAACP is investigating claims of racism made by two Black ranch owners in El Paso County who allege their predominantly white neighbors and the sheriff’s office have harassed them the last two years.

It’s a dispute between neighbors that has exploded in recent weeks on national social media and played out in an El Paso County courtroom Tuesday in the most pedestrian of ways.

The couple, Courtney and Nicole Mallery, have been accused of felony stalking on their neighbor's farm in Yoder, about an hour east of Colorado Springs. Both were arrested Monday on warrants related to those charges. 

In a seven-minute hearing on Tuesday, Judge Deborah Pearson decided to hold Courtney — who had remained in custody since Monday — on a $6,000 bond. Nicole Mallery was released from the El Paso County Jail within an hour on Monday, according to the NAACP.

Courtney was released Tuesday night after the NAACP posted his bond.

Years-long complaints of stalking and dismissed restraining orders

Court records show the couple's neighbor, Teresa Clark, filed complaints of stalking against the Mallerys in the last couple years. In the complaint, Clark said Courtney Mallery would harass and intimidate Clark, had hurt Clark's horse and turned Clark's animals loose.

Since last spring, Courtney Mallery has filed six restraining orders claiming Clark trespassed on his property, pointed guns, damaged his gate and security cameras, and would incite violence against him and his family on social media. 

All six restraining orders filed by Courtney Mallery were dismissed according to court records, one of which because he didn’t show up for the hearing. His wife also filed two restraining orders against their neighbors, which were dismissed too. She was arrested in November on the similar stalking charges as her husband, and posted a $2,000 bail.

Judge Pearson ruled Tuesday that Courtney Mallery is to have no contact with his neighbors, based on restraining orders filed by Clark. Clark’s partner also filed a restraining order Tuesday morning against Courtney Mallery, the day of his hearing.

“The court is concerned about the risk to the victims and the community as part of this stalking case,” Judge Pearson said in court Tuesday.

Right now, the truth in the case is elusive.

The NAACP and supporters of the Mallerys step in

Rocky Mountain NAACP President Portia Prescott said Tuesday the civil rights group is currently working on getting all the facts in the case. She said their priority is to make sure the Mallerys are safe and that they have legal representation.

“It's a very touchy situation,” Prescott said. “This has been going on since 2021, but it escalated in March. You don't ever know who's telling the truth and who's not telling the truth.” 

Prescott said the neighbors have been fighting about a line that divides their property, which hasn’t been clearly defined in land deeds. 

Supporters of the Mallerys have raised nearly $50,000 on an internet funding site to pay for additional security for their farm, called Freedom Acres Ranch. They allege that El Paso County Sheriff’s Deputy Sgt. Emory “Ray” Gerhart, has been complicit in trying to force the Mallerys family off of their land. 

The Mallerys claim the county sheriff is captured on Freedom Acres footage driving around their property, and that the sheriff’s office has not taken any police reports from their numerous complaints. 

The Mallerys said they have also found their livestock slaughtered.

What the El Paso County Sheriff's Office says

Sheriff's deputies said they have investigated, but the only crimes they could find were committed by the Mallerys themselves. They reported responding to 170 calls for service and 911 calls, and 19 complaints from the Mallerys and their neighbors in the last couple years. 

“Each of these complaints were individually and thoroughly investigated,” the department stated in a press release.

In another letter from the El Paso Sheriff's office, Sheriff Joseph Roybal requested the assistance of the Black and Latino Leadership Coalition to assist in coordinating a meeting with the Mallerys. 

“I'm requesting all interested parties meet in an effort to address ongoing concerns which have been brought forward by Mr. And Mrs. Mallery and indirectly by others through various social media platforms,” the letter stated.

Courtney Mallery is scheduled back in court Feb. 14. His wife, Nicole, has a hearing Thursday.