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Pueblo Sheriff: viral video of deputy taking racist button at Columbus protests was a ‘set up’

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Editor’s Note: Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office offered to allow PULP and other news outlets to privately review body cam footage. It is our policy when body cam footage exists to make it publicly available.

Update: The Facebook video has been taken down.

Update 2: 7/16/20 Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office has declined to release the footage to PULP. Their requirement is that news outlets must view the tape under the purview of the PCSO before it is released. PULP does not enter into conditional agreements over the release of public documents.

Update 3: 7/16/20 PCSO provide the body cam footage after

PUEBLO – A viral video from Sunday’s Columbus statue protests has sparked controversy as it appears to show a Pueblo County Sheriff Deputy accepting a racist button. Pueblo County Sheriff called the video a set-up and the racist pin was quickly trashed.

The video, shared by Makena Lambert, was filmed at the protests calling for the removal of the Columbus statue on July 12 in Pueblo. The video shows a hand, off-camera, holding two buttons saying “Police Lives Don’t Matter,” and “Abolish the Police Because Reform Won’t Happen,” before it pans to Deputy S. Wolfe holding a “Blue Klux Klan” pin and tucking it into his vest.

Lambert said in her post:

“Check out this video where you can see S. Wolfe of the Sheriff’s Department K-9 Unit showing off a Blue Klux Klan pin before placing it back in his pocket. Immediately after this, I approached a row of cops across the way and asked if I could ask them a question, they agreed. I approached a row of cops across the way and asked if I could ask them a question, they agreed. I asked if they were all members of the KKK or if it was just Wolfe and proceeded to show them the video. They were all a bit panicked and asked me to send this video to the department to which I said, hell no. What I will do is post this everywhere I can and ask that people share it and give Sheriff Taylor of the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office a call – (719) 583-6131 – demanding that they fire S. Wolfe for being a blatantly racist piece of shit.”

Lambert’s post did not provide details how the deputy obtained the button.

PULP reached out to Lambert who said she had no comment. She warned she did not want her video shared by PULP.

The video remained on Facebook late Tuesday.

Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk Taylor said that the video is simply a misunderstanding. He says few protestors were handing out the buttons and they handed them to Wolfe and another deputy.

Where the deputy is standing when receiving the button puts the exchange near the anti-Columbus protestors.

“They [protestors] were handing them out and unfortunately my deputy wasn’t smart enough to say no, so he just took it and put it in his pocket,” said Taylor on Tuesday in response to the video.

“They ‘video’ it and they put the wrong information out like it was my deputy’s pin – he threw it in the trash,” the Sheriff said.

Taylor says one of the women from the video called their office and apologized for the video being taken out of context.

“It looks bad the way they edited it and showed it out,” said Taylor.  “The whole thing was a set- up.”

The department says they have the body cam footage from all the deputies involved and it would corroborate their version of the story.

The Sheriff’s Office has not released footage of the incident publicly as of Tuesday evening.

Body cam video was given to KOAA TV but PCSO Public Information Officer Gayle Perez declined to provide the video to PULP on Thursday morning saying, “The body cam video was released to KOAA at the time they came to view the video at the Sheriff’s Office.”

The body cam footage corroborates Sheriff Taylor’s chain of events, showing Deputy Wolfe throwing away the button shortly after receiving the button.

The buttons were being shown and given by protestors to law enforcement.

Deputy Wolfe considered writing a report on the button but another deputy told him to throw it away, which he did.