Police from three jurisdictions detained at gunpoint a New York City band on Aspen’s Main Street early Tuesday.
Authorities were investigating the report of an alleged assault involving one of the members of the London Souls — Tash Michael Neal, the band’s lead singer and guitarist. Neal, 27, was advised in Pitkin County Court on misdemeanor charges of assault and domestic violence Tuesday.
The band had performed Monday night at the Belly Up. After the show, Neal had an altercation with his ex-girlfriend in front of the venue, according to an arrest affidavit.
She told police he shoved her down, while the other two members of the band said that Neal either acted in self defense or the woman fell. Neal allegedly told police that the woman has been stalking him.
Aspen police officer Roderick O’Connor wrote in the affidavit that he contacted the woman around 1:50 a.m. in the 600 block of South Mill Street.
“Before I fully stopped my vehicle, [the woman] showed me her left hand, which was covered in blood,” O’Connor wrote.
The alleged victim told the officer that Neal threw her to the ground and that her head was bleeding.
“He spun me around before he pushed me down,” she said, according to the affidavit. “I got up and he pushed me again.”
The woman told O’Connor that as the band got into the van she felt blood streaming down her head, so she “went to the van and smeared my blood on the windshield, yelling at them, ‘I am bleeding.’” The band drove away in a blood-smeared white van with New York license plates, she said.
She told O’Connor that she and Neal had dated for 16 months before breaking up in March.
The woman gave O’Connor Neal’s phone number, which the officer called. He told Neal that he wanted to speak to him about the woman’s allegations.
“I told him, ‘We’ve got lots of cops out looking for you. Come back now or it’s not going to be good for you,’” the affidavit says.
O’Connor wrote that the phone call was then disconnected.
Another member of the band later told police that they debated what to do after O’Connor’s phone call before they headed back to Aspen. They first washed the blood off of the vehicle, one band member said, according to the affidavit.
In the area of 7th and Main streets, the van was pulled over shortly after the altercation. Authorities from the Aspen and Snowmass Village police departments, along with the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, assisted in a “felony car stop,” the affidavit says.
Aspen police spokeswoman Blair Weyer said the officers drew their weapons, which is standard — though rare for local police — in such situations.
Aspen Police Chief Richard Pryor said he believes the officers drew their guns because of both the band’s “flight” from town and the allegation that a violent crime had occurred.
“It’s a safety thing,” he said. “We don’t know what we have, and we’re going about it and trying to find answers in the safest way possible.
“It’s a rare occurrence.”
Weyer said the number of times Aspen police officers have conducted high-risk traffic stops involving drawn weapons is hard to pin down. But she estimated that the department sees perhaps one such case a year.
At the Pitkin County Jail, Neal allegedly told another police officer, “I suppose it doesn’t matter that [the woman] has been stalking me since February.”
According to the affidavit, he said he has proof that she “has been calling me, texting me, emailing me and following me all over the country.” The officer asked if he wanted to make a statement, but Neal allegedly said that it wouldn’t do any good.
In court Tuesday, Aspen defense attorney Mark Rubinstein said Neal “wants no contact” with the woman and already had blocked several numbers she had used to call him.
“She keeps showing up uninvited at his place of work,” Rubinstein said.
Pitkin County Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely allowed Neal a $1,000 personal-recognizance bond, allowing him to be released from jail on his promise to come back. She also issued a mandatory protection order that prevents him from contacting the woman.
Neal’s next court date is Sept. 24.