Assault on a Moffat County Sheriff’s deputy might be linked to Colorado prison gang
Editor’s Note: The Craig Press has elected not to name the deputy who was assaulted to provide privacy through the recovery process and help ensure a jury can be seated if the matter goes to trial.
CRAIG — Inmates who witnessed a violent assault on Moffat County Sheriff’s Office detention deputy believe the incident may have been gang-motivated.
About 3:45 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, jail inmate Geoffrey Duzik, of Craig, allegedly assaulted a detentions deputy, according to a warrantless arrest affidavit filed by Craig Police Sgt. Brian Soper.
According to the report, Duzik had refused repeated requests given by the civilian in the jail master control room to close the door to his cell.
A detentions deputy preparing medication in a nearby room was asked to lock the cell down.
As the deputy climbed a set of stairs to approach Duzik’s cell, Duzik is alleged to have yelled obscenities from inside the cell, prompting the deputy to back away from the partially opened door and onto the stairs.
Video footage reviewed by Soper show the inmate walking from his cell with his hands down. The deputy reportedly warned him to stay back or he would be tased.
Soper said the video showed Duzik “rapidly close the distance between them …” that he “quickly and violently grabbed the deputy around the throat with both of his hands … and tried to throw (the deputy) over the railing onto the concrete floor” — a height of about eight feet.
The deputy sustained injuries to the neck, throat, and hand and was treated at The Memorial Hospital emergency department and released.
“The visible marks on (the) neck and throat area were a result of the strangulation,” Soper wrote in the affidavit.
At the time of the incident, two other detention deputies were on duty inside the jail. One was conducting change out procedures with inmates from another pod.
When the incident occurred, the civilian in master control, “yelled over the intercom system ‘officer down.’” He then began the unlock procedure to admit one of the other detention deputies to the secure area and contacted Colorado State Patrol Dispatch for additional assistance.
When help arrived, the deputy was found in the hallway and reported Duzik attacked, choked, and attempted to throw the deputy over the railing, according to the affidavit.
The deputy also reported deploying a taser on Duzik. The taser was later recovered by officers entering the pod to remove Duzik.
Soper wrote in the affidavit that, on the video, he observed Duzik attempt to remove a Taser probe that “was stuck in his left shoulder blade area.”
Soper observed “a considerable size difference between them (Duzik and the deputy).”
For his report, Soper interviewed jail staff, reviewed the videotape, and interviewed three inmates who witnessed the alleged assault.
Two of the inmates interviewed were “of the opinion” that Duzik was trying to “cut,” or initiate, himself into the 211 prison gang by assaulting the deputy.
Neither the Craig Police nor District Attorney’s Office was able to say if the gang was active in Moffat County, and the sheriff was not immediately available for comment.
According to reporting by the Denver Post, the 211 crew is a white supremacist prison gang formed in 1995 by an inmate at the Denver County Jail. The gang has been linked to several high-profile murders and criminal investigations, including the assassination of the Colorado Department of Corrections head Tom Clements in March 2013.
Duzik declined to speak with investigators during initial interviews.
Duzik is charged with first-degree criminal attempted murder, first-degree assault, and second-degree assault — all felonies— and obstructing a peace officer, a misdemeanor.
He was in jail for parole violations and remains in custody in lieu of a $100,000 bond. His next court appearance is scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 20.
The incident is under investigation by the Craig Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office.
As the incident involved injury to a Moffat County Sheriff’s deputy, the office requested another agency conduct the investigation, which is typical practice, according to Donna Zulian, communications director for the 14th Judicial District Attorney.
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.
Late last month, Jim and Gloria Matthews were preparing to embark on the next chapter of their lives.