Around 9:30 p.m. on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, an officer with the San Juan County Sheriff’s Department in Colorado pulled over and later arrested Grand County Commissioner Evan Clapper on multiple charges, including for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol.
As first reported by Fox 13, Clapper also faces charges of failing to stop at a stop sign, which she said she saw Clapper do twice, driving 33 mph in a 25-mph zone, driving with expired registration, lacking his registration card, lacking insurance on the vehicle, and obstructing a peace officer.
Clapper declined to comment on the matter. Grand County Commission Chair Mary McGann defended Clapper, saying she was “going to stand by him 100%” following the arrest and charges.
The arresting officer said in a court document that, after she clocked Clapper traveling 33 mph, she turned to follow him and saw him roll through a stop sign, drive through a gas station parking lot, roll through another stop sign, then take a wide enough left onto Highway 550 that he ended up in a gravel ditch on the shoulder.
The officer said she pulled him over and noted that his plates showed an expiration of December 2020, which she said she also confirmed by running his plate number through an enforcement database.
The officer reported that Clapper was the lone occupant of the vehicle, that his eyes were watery and “he was smiling” when she came to his window, and that he had a “glassy look” in his eyes.
She asked whether he had been drinking, and Clapper allegedly said he had had one beer. She asked for his license, registration, and insurance. He allegedly was only able to provide his license, as he had “just cleaned out his vehicle.”
Once a second officer arrived, the two asked Clapper if he would volunteer for a sobriety test, to which he obliged. The officer reported that said she observed “a strong odor” of alcohol and that he was “unsteady” and performed poorly in the test.
After asking whether he would participate in a blood draw, Clapper allegedly asked if he could take the test the next day, which the officer said would not be an option. He then agreed to a transport to the sheriff’s office for a blood draw, according to the officer.
As the other officer attempted to place handcuffs on to Clapper, Clapper allegedly moved his arms and walked away. The reporting officer said she held Clapper’s arm behind his back so the other officer could finish putting on the cuffs and that Clapper “verbally objected” to being placed in handcuffs.
During a vehicle search, the officer said she found an empty, open beer can in his center console and a half-empty case of White Claw behind the driver’s seat.
Upon arriving at the sheriff’s office, Clapper allegedly refused to get out of the patrol vehicle unless the handcuffs were removed. The other officer told Clapper that he would be charged with obstructing a peace officer if he did not exit the vehicle.
According to the court filing, Clapper was eventually taken to the jail facility about 20 minutes later. Obstructing a peace officer is among the charges he faces.
“He’s a really good person who made a mistake,” McGann said. “My prayer is the people in the community will not be the one that throw the stone.”
Court documents show that Clapper faced a misdemeanor charge of unlawful conduct on public property in December 2016, though the case was later dismissed.