EL PASO COUNTY, Colorado — A Black farmer and his wife who own many acres of land in eastern El Paso County claim they have been targeted for harassment because of their race.
An article published online describing how their property was vandalized and their farm animals killed has led to a flurry of calls to the El Paso County Sheriff's Office to address the accusations of racism in the community.
The farmer, Courtney Mallery, was arrested earlier this week further agitating a volatile situation.
Portia Prescott, President of the Rocky Mountain NAACP, told News 5 that her group is helping Mallery and his wife Nicole to find a defense attorney to fight the criminal charge. She explained that the couple has faced racial harassment since buying a 640-acre section near Yoder a few years ago.
"They've had their animals mutilated, poisoned, the "N-word" spray painted on their property," she said.
A spokesperson for the sheriff's office said Mallery was arrested on charges of stalking, tampering with a utility, and theft.
Prescott said the issue stems from a dispute with a neighbor over property boundaries.
"We are now in a situation where their neighbor has been able to manipulate the system to weaponize the police against them," said Prescott.
Her group is now conducting its own fact-finding investigation.
"We're going to find out the exact borders of their land, we're going to conduct, make sure an independent surveyor comes out and surveys the property so that we get a clear idea as NAACP, and we want to see if this is something that the county or the mayor's office or something, that this is what they could've done," she said.
The online article which first reported harassment named two deputies and indicated they contributed to the Mallerys' suffering. The sheriff's office issued a news release Monday vehemently denying the allegations in the article.
A spokesperson declined our request for an on-camera interview. However, she noted that dispatchers have received more than 170 calls for service to the property since April 2021.
She also said that the sheriff's office has conducted and closed 19 separate internal affairs investigations into the two deputies since the article was published.
She explained that they must thoroughly and independently investigate any complaint made to internal affairs.
Sheriff Joe Roybal sent a letter this week to the Black and Latino Leadership Coalition asking the group to help organize a meeting with the Mallerys to de-escalate the tensions.
"I can't imagine the cops coming to my house 3 or 4 times, but up to close to 200 times, that's a big deal," Carnell said.
He said he has not yet spoken with the Mallerys but wants to get all of the interested parties to come together and resolve the conflict.
"Overall, we want our community to be safer. And if you have neighbors against neighbors, if you have neighbors against cops, cops showing up for service repetitiously, that's a strain on the community and that's not a healthy environment for any of us to thrive in."
The El Paso County Sheriff's Office has compiled roughly 100 pages from the 23 case reports involving the Mallerys. They plan to release them later this week after they finish with redactions.
Investigators are reviewing more than 40 hours of body camera footage from their calls for service to this property which they also plan to release publicly. A spokesperson for the ACLU of Colorado told us that they are closely following the release of that video.
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