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Sheriff expresses anger as US attorneys fight traffic ticket issued to federal officer

A conflict over a reckless driving citation issued to a postal inspector has riled up Park County’s sheriff, who said the federal officer must be held accountable.

DENVER — For at least an hour, the unmarked SUV moving fast with lights and sirens down busy Highway 285 was a mystery to the Colorado State Patrol and the Park County Sheriff’s Office.

People traveling on the highway on July 16, 2021 were reporting the driver was operating the vehicle dangerously by crossing the center line and nearly hitting oncoming traffic.

Dispatch audio and dash camera from the Colorado State Patrol obtained by 9NEWS reveals it took more than three minutes for the driver of the mysterious SUV to finally pull over when a trooper spotted the vehicle. 

The driver turned out to be Postal Inspector Justin Moll, based in Denver, who claimed he was rushing to the scene of an arson in Moffat. The post office was set on fire before sunrise, and Moll said he was worried the crime scene wasn’t secure.

A trooper pulled Moll over around 11:40 that morning.

“You understand that running lights and sirens, you have due regard you have to show for other people?” the trooper can be heard scolding Moll on dash camera footage. 

“I have a Park County sergeant that needs to get your information. He’s going to write you a ticket for reckless driving,” the trooper added.

A few months later, the Park County Sheriff’s Office issued a reckless driving citation to Moll, but federal court documents filed nearly a year later show the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Colorado is fighting the case by trying to move it to federal court. 

“He went 86 miles, passing probably hundreds of cars, probably thousands of people. And he put the people, my citizens in Park County, the tourists who come to Park County, in extreme danger,” Park County Sheriff Tom McGraw told 9NEWS.

“His reasoning–the insecure crime scene–totally inadequate reasoning for responding in that mode,” McGraw said.

In June, lawyers from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Colorado filed a “Notice of Removal” in an effort to move the case into federal court.

“Inspector Moll had an objectively reasonable and well-founded basis for running with lights and sirens to get to the scene of an arson expeditiously,” the federal lawyers wrote.

“...Inspector Moll knew that local authorities often would not independently secure a crime scene at a Post Office because those authorities would rely on federal law enforcement to do so,” attorneys wrote in the same court document. 

McGraw told 9NEWS he expects a federal judge to dismiss the reckless driving case if it does get moved into federal court. 

“Our taxpayer monies are paying for him to be represented for what he did up here. I cannot justify his actions at all. I think it is a totally inadequate reason for him responding, driving this way and putting so many people in danger,” McGraw said. 

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Denver declined to comment because of the pending case and referred 9NEWS to the court documents. 

If you have any information about this story or would like to send a news tip, you can contact jeremy@9news.com.

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