By Jeff Francis
Sentinel and Transcript Newspapers
The Arvada city attorney's office is prosecuting a Denver police officer for harassment and unlawful entry after a dispute with her neighbors allegedly turned ugly.
According to Arvada police reports, an officer responded to a neighborhood dispute in the 6900 block of Parfet Street on May 28. A 15-year-old girl called police and said her neighbor, Alta Metzinger, 61, walked into the family's back yard and yelled at her little sister for throwing pine cones in the street. The younger sister told police Metzinger, who is a traffic investigations supervisor with the Denver Police Department, grabbed her arm tightly and dragged her into another spot in the yard and yelled at her.
The girl's mother, Rosemary Marti, told police she wanted charges filed against Metzinger and said she and other neighbors have been having ongoing problems with Metzinger.
Metzinger submitted a written plea of not guilty during her arraignment.
The matter has everyone involved tight-lipped. Metzinger and the alleged victims refused to discuss the case with the Arvada Sentinel, at least until the matter is resolved in court.
But an Arvada police report indicates that problems between Metzinger and her neighbors began within the past year.
Before the Arvada police investigator spoke with other neighbors, Marti said she was talking to Metzinger a few months earlier - when they were still on good terms - and Metzinger told her about one of their neighbors who had been arrested twice for drunken driving. Marti said Metzinger told her she obtained this information through her job as a Denver police officer, according to the Arvada police report.
The investigating officer spoke with another neighbor, a 36-year-old woman who told the officer her young son also was in the back yard when the dispute took place. The son ran toward the mother with Metzinger in tow, the mother said. She told police she and Metzinger got into a heated argument in which Metzinger told her she was not being a good mother. During the argument, the mother's 36-year-old husband arrived home and began arguing with Metzinger. As Metzinger walked away, witnesses said she urged the man to "go have a beer," the police report said. The man told Metzinger he did not drink.
"That's not what your record says," Metzinger told the man, according to the police report.
The man told Arvada police that he had heard Metzinger checked his records and was telling neighbors that he had two DUIs. He said he had two DUIs when he was younger, but no one knew about them except his family. He said he felt Metzinger was using her position as a police officer to look up his records to make him look bad to his neighbors.
Police reports show that another couple, Mike and Tamara Schell, said Metzinger visited them on May 28 to discuss their children throwing trash in Metzinger's yard. The couple's two children told police Metzinger made them clean up some pine cones in the street. Mike Schell said he denied his children were involved with littering and asked Metzinger if she was a Denver police officer, as she had said. Schell said Metzinger yelled her badge number at him five times in a row, according to the police report. Schell said he was going to call the Denver Police Department to verify if she was an officer. He told Arvada police he went into his kitchen and noticed that Metzinger followed him. He told her to leave and told police she left after he had asked her twice.
Schell said he went out to the sidewalk to speak with Metzinger, and they got into an argument. He told police she called him vulgar names and asked him what he did for a living and how much money he made last year. After answering her questions, she said she "was going to pull his record and find out all about him," according to the police report.
After talking with the neighbors, Arvada police then interviewed Metzinger, who said she had problems with the neighborhood children running around unsupervised. She told the officer she talked with the parents but denied using profanity or lingering in the Schells' home. When the officer asked her if she ran record checks on her neighbors, she repeatedly asked the officer, "Why would I do that?"
The officer, who noted in his report that there have been anonymous calls to the Arvada Police Department about neglected children in the neighborhood, told Metzinger her neighbors were considering filing a restraining order against her. She said she didn't mind because she wasn't apt to socialize with the neighbors anyway.
Officials in Arvada and Denver were hushed about the matter. Brenda Docheff, assistant to the Arvada city attorney, said she could not comment on the case until it was adjudicated. She said the possibility exists the case might go to a jury trial.
John White, a spokesman for the Denver Police Department, said there is an internal personnel investigation of the incident, but that the department cannot divulge any details.
Witnesses in the neighborhood, who were named in the police report, said they were instructed by Docheff not to comment on the case until it is resolved.
Metzinger said she, too, was told not to speak publicly about the case, but reminded the Arvada Sentinel there are "two sides to every story."
Published Aug. 1, 2002
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