A Durango man’s trial starts this week after he was accused of attacking deputies and making racists comments to an African American deputy during an burglary investigation in February at the Glacier Club.
William Benjamin Cline IV, 29, faces multiple charges stemming from the incident.
According to court records, William Poillion, a resident at Glacier Club, called law enforcement around 11:30 p.m. Feb. 13 to report a young white man had broken into his home.
Deputies with the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office arrived to find a golf cart that had crashed into a snowbank outside the supposedly burglarized home, along with a 9 mm bullet, a set of keys belonging to a Toyota vehicle and a garage door opener.
The gate attendant, assisting police, told investigating officers the cart belonged to Cline, who had crashed the same cart the week before and needed to be taken to Mercy Regional Medical Center because of his injuries.
Cline’s father, Bill, owns a home at Glacier Club.
Poillion was sleeping inside the house, he told police, when Cline opened his bedroom door, flashlight in hand. Cline then left the bedroom and went to the liquor cabinet in the kitchen where he started to “make himself a drink,” Poillion said.
Cline then went to the garage where Poillion asked him what he was doing. Cline said, “Well, I sometimes go to houses that are empty, didn’t know you were home.” Poillion said it appeared Cline was intoxicated and may have had a gun on him.
Authorities went to Cline’s home, which is about a half mile away from Poillion’s house, finding a Toyota outside. Authorities knocked on the door, and Cline approached and locked the deadbolt. Deputies rang the doorbell again, and Cline came to the door and invited police inside.
While in the residence, Cline became aggressive toward a deputy, arresting documents show. He was then placed in handcuffs. While one deputy went to retrieve a patrol car, Cline attacked the other deputy, kicking the deputy’s leg and grabbing his genitals.
Backup was called, and Cline was eventually tased. He further resisted arrest, police say, and was placed in the patrol car where he broke a door handle.
Cline was charged with burglary, second- and third-degree assault against a police officer, resisting arrest, use of a weapon when prohibited, criminal mischief, trespassing and driving under the influence of alcohol.
But prosecutors with the 6th Judicial District said another charge was added stemming from Cline’s conduct toward an African American police officer while being taken to the La Plata County Jail, a trip which lasted about an hour because of inclement weather conditions at the time.
Prosecutors said in opening statements Monday that Cline called the deputy a “barrage of vile statements,” many of which included racist remarks. At one point, Cline is accused of saying, “Do you care if I call you the n-word?” in an attempt to provoke the officer.
Cline was charged with harassment with the intent of ethnic intimidation. Many of the incidents from the night were caught on police body cameras and dash cams.
Cline’s defense attorney, Brian Schowalter, said Cline’s comments to the deputy were “atrocious” and “not acceptable” but are not illegal. He said prosecutors are using the comments to make the jury dislike Cline.
Schowalter said police officers used excessive force that night against Cline. He said Cline allowed officers into his home without a warrant, and deputies should have left when asked. Schowalter also disputed that Cline injured the deputy’s genitals.
“He (Cline) was left alone with a dangerous person (the deputy), and thought he was going to die,” Schowalter said.
Cline is scheduled for a two-day trial.