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DA drops charges, says Westminster yard sale incident was a misunderstanding

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Posted at 5:30 PM, Jun 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-09 23:33:43-04

WESTMINSTER, Colo. — The 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office dropped all charges against a man Westminster police accused of robbing and assaulting a woman holding a yard sale Saturday. Prosecutors said the incident was a misunderstanding and no robbery occurred.

The man was identified by Westminster police as the suspect and arrested on assault and robbery charges Sunday. But the DA’s office said Wednesday that not only did the man commit no crime, he took every opportunity to contact the appropriate authorities.

The incident happened around 9 a.m. Saturday in the 4700 block of W 102nd Avenue.

A couple, who are in their mid-seventies, were having a yard sale when the woman noticed a bag containing cash from the yard sale was missing.

The woman believed the man, who prosecutors said was in possession of a bag belonging to him, had stolen her bag and she confronted him.

The man told the couple that the bag was his and he did not take their money, but the couple did not believe him, according to prosecutors.

The woman and her husband attempted to prevent the man from leaving, but the man got into his truck and drove away. When he did so, the woman fell to the ground and sustained injuries as a result of the fall, prosecutors said in a news release.

The district attorney’s office said the man contacted police to inform them of the incident and to assure them he did not steal the couple’s bag. The man’s wife also gave her husband’s bag, which she said he often uses when visiting yard sales, to police so they could review it.

After reviewing the bag, police and the female homeowner determined it was not the missing bag. The woman’s husband later called police to inform them that they had, in fact, found their bag from the yard sale.

The 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office said the “original allegations arose from a regrettable mistake and misunderstanding.” Prosecutors said the homeowners agreed with the DA’s decision.

The Westminster Police Department released the following statement:

"Based upon information received on June 5th, 2021 officers were able to establish probable cause to arrest Mr. Valdez. That conclusion was the result of the initial investigation that included statements from numerous independent witnesses. Officers followed proper procedures and arrested and jailed Mr. Valdez.

During the subsequent investigation additional details and facts came to light that led detectives to believe that Mr. Valdez did not commit this crime. Part of that information included that the crime did not occur the way it was initially reported. Detectives immediately requested the case be reviewed by the district attorney’s office and requested that charges not be filed."