County attorney challenges Center Post-Dispatch report

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SAGUACHE — A statement made in an article that appeared in the July 9 edition of the Center Post-Dispatch regarding a suicide in the Saguache County Jail has been challenged as untrue by Saguache County Attorney Ben Gibbons.


Travis Maes, 27, a young black man, ended his life in the jail November 2019. One citizen complained that the suicide was not investigated or reported. The article covering the incident, which featured an interview with both the citizen and Saguache County Sheriff Dan Warwick, revealed that the incident was not released to the press, but was reported to the county and investigated by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI).


Below are the two paragraphs from the July 9 edition of the paper objected to by Gibbons.


“A Crestone resident wrote to inquire why the death of Travis Maes, 27, a young black man, was never reported or investigated. Therese Peloquin says she believes the community deserves answers regarding Maes’ death and how local law enforcement handled the incident.


“According to Saguache County Sheriff Dan Warwick, the suicide went unreported on the advice of County Attorney Ben Gibbons and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI). “I wanted to take everything to the family, but they told us not to do it,” Warwick said. “Once CBI gets involved, we can’t do anything.”


The article clearly shows the death was reported to the county and to CBI, which Warwick says then took over the investigation. What Gibbons and apparently CBI advised is that the press not be informed of the suicide. The following sentences are taken directly from BoCC minutes for July 21:


“Commissioner Lovato showed Gibbons the article that reportedly relays some conversation that [Sheriff] Dan [Warwick] had with a reporter, which implies that Gibbons advised him not to report the death, which is not true. There were conversations the next day with CTSI [the county’s insurer] to report it.”


Warwick’s handling of the investigation is clearly expressed in the article. The Center Post-Dispatch, however, apologizes for any confusion on the part of readers.

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