CIT Investigation: Officers Justified in Shooting Fruita Man
KREX News Room
FRUITA, Colo. - The full investigation into the officer involved shooting that resulted in the death of a Fruita man has been released.
The investigation was put forth by the Critical Incident Team for the 21st Judicial District and found that the three officers, Andrew Courtney, Steve Lentz and Sgt. Kevin Paquette, were justified in their actions.
"I think they did the right thing and they didn't have any other options," said Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger who reviewed the investigation.
Authorities say in the early hours on June 15, Lewis Pollard, 61, of Fruita was pulled over for a traffic violation by Officer Courtney.
The report explains that Pollard was "quickly somewhat hostile and uncooperative," telling Courtney he would only "recognize the authority of the Sheriff only when the Sheriff began to recognize the Constitution."
After an additional officer arrived on scene for backup, the report said Pollard drove off.
Officers said they planned to locate an address where the vehicle was parked so they could later use to obtain a warrant. They found the car at Pollard's residence at 159 Hollyberry Way.
A total of five officers approached the home when they heard shouting from inside.
Officers said Pollard came outside with one of his hands hidden behind him. Officer Courtney said he saw that Pollard may have been concealing a gun.
"As soon as they saw the gun, they said "Gun!" "Drop it!" and [Pollard] pulls it out and starts pointing it at them. At that point a TAZER's not going to do any good, the only real solution is to use deadly force regrettably," said Hautzinger
A total of 11 shots were fired by the three officers, five of which hit Pollard in what are being described as "rapidly fatal" wounds.
An autopsy also indicated Pollard's blood alcohol concentration was as high as 0.126%.
The gun Pollard was armed with a loaded Hi-Point .40 caliber pistol which was described as in an "inoperable, unsafe condition."
The manual safety had been damaged, preventing the slide from being pulled back and emptying the chamber.
Pollard's daughter tells NewsChannel 5 that she is disappointed with the findings.
"Even though they closed the case, we do not agree to the findings that the District Attorney reported and we are looking into our options at this time," said Jolene Gifford.
The CIT is made up of multiple law enforcement agencies in an effort to ensure accountability and Hautzinger said he believes they did a thorough job.
"They did everything I could have asked for. I had DVDs, transcripts, photos, ballistics and really having looked at everything, reviewed everything, I don't have any doubt in my mind that the officers were doing their jobs trying to protect the public," he said.
The officers have been cleared of any potential criminal charges; it is unclear if Pollard's family will pursue a civil case due to the shooting.
Pollard's family will be holding a funeral for him on August 21 at the Veterans' Memorial Cemetery. They have also set up a fund for him at any Coloramo Federal Credit Union.