COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (CBS4) - Dashcam video from a Utah Highway Patrol car of a speeding stop of Commerce City Police Chief Clint Nichols in 2020 is raising questions about Nichols' account of what exactly happened. Commerce City Mayor Ben Huseman, who viewed the six minute video obtained by CBS4, said the tape "shows there are a lot of concerns."
During the pandemic, City Manager Roger Tinklenberg said he approved of Nichols working remotely from Las Vegas, Nevada where Nichols' family still lives. Additionally, Nichols was allowed to drive his city-owned Tahoe SUV between Commerce City and Las Vegas, which is about a 1,600 mile roundtrip.
In an email last November to members of the Commerce City Police Department, Tinklenberg acknowledged rumors that Nichols received a speeding ticket during one of those trips.
"It was for 2.5 miles (per hour) over the speed limit!," exclaimed the city manager. "The reason he got the ticket? He refused to let them search the vehicle, which any citizen has the right to do, and, in his case, would have been a waste of time. Utah police are looking for narcotics in Colorado plated vehicles + Tahoe with tinted windows + Black driver, jackpot!" wrote Tinklenberg.
CBS4 tracked down a speeding stop of Nichols from July 25, 2020 in which he was driving Commerce City's vehicle and was stopped by a Utah Highway Patrol trooper in Iron County.
Responding to an open records request, the Utah Highway Patrol provided CBS4 with dashcam video of the stop on Interstate 15. An agency spokesperson said it was the only stop of Nichols the UHP had made during the timeframe of the pandemic.
After clocking Nichols at 90 mph in a 75 mph zone, the trooper can be seen approaching Nichols' SUV and asking for his license and registration. She told him he was exceeding the speed limit.
"I have to pee," responded Nichols.
"Keep your hands on the wheel I'll get you out in a minute," said the trooper.
"He says he was speeding and doing the pee dance, come on," she commented.
After a few minutes she returns to Nichols' SUV and hands him a ticket telling him she was only citing him for 5 mph over the speed limit.
"Please slow it down," she said, and Nichols drives away.
There is no mention of narcotics, no request to search his vehicle and no indication that Nichols was racially profiled. In fact, Sgt. Cameron Roden with the Utah Highway Patrol noted that Nichols' speed was clocked via radar from such a long distance that the trooper could not have discerned the race of the driver.
Utah's state court database indicates the July 2020 stop is the only citation Nichols has received in that state.
CBS4 asked both Tinklenberg and Nichols to explain the emerging discrepancies; if there had been a different speeding stop in Utah that they were referring to, and if so, could they provide the date and location. Both declined to provide any additional information about a second stop.
In an email, Nichols wrote, "This matter has been referred for investigation. As such I have been admonished from discussing the particulars of this incident until the conclusion of the investigation. I am certain the investigation will clear up any confusion regarding this incident."
One law enforcement source, who asked not to be identified, told CBS4 Nichols was stopped a second time for speeding in a different Utah county in 2021, but was only issued a warning in that case. CBS4 is attempting to obtain more information about this stop that apparently did not involve the issuance of a citation.
As for City Manager Tinklenberg, CBS4 offered to show him the six minute videotape followed by an interview. He did not pursue that offer. He previously termed inquiries into the chief "a big fat nothing burger."
Now though, Tinklenberg said, "Given the uncertainty of the facts of this situation.. I have decided that an examination of the records is warranted... I have been in discussions with another agency to see if they are willing to investigate the facts."
He declined to identify what agency was asked to look into this apparent discrepancy, or if they had agreed to do it.
Commerce City Mayor Huseman expressed concern over the newly obtained video recording.
"The video I just watched does not match the details that I recollect being conveyed to us," said Huseman. "That's very concerning that the details do not match the video. We have to find out why it is that the traffic stop and dashcam from the trooper in Utah doesn't match the details provided to us."
Sgt. Roden told CBS4, "The traffic stop consisted only of the observed speeding violation in a respectful and professional manner. Our trooper issued a citation for the speed violation never extending beyond that scope."
Utah court records show that Nichols paid the speeding fine of $130 about a week after the stop occurred.
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