Officers cleared in fatal shooting
A dying Brent Ingram was dragged by police or medical personnel to the doorway of a North Avenue motel room in an effort to provide easier access for emergency responders, according to a Mesa County forensic pathologist.
“Until they know he’s dead, they have to make every effort to preserve his life,” said Dr. Robert Kurtzman, who performed Ingram’s autopsy.
Kurtzman said Ingram’s apparent loose-fitting pants were inadvertently yanked down as he was moved, exposing Ingram below the hips and thighs. He was not wearing underwear.
Ingram, 39, was later pronounced dead at the scene.
Kurtzman said the events surrounding the treatment of Ingram’s body were explained to him by law enforcement.
“The most important thing for me is: Are the pattern of injuries consistent with the reported circumstances?” he said. “And they are in this case.”
Interviewed by The Daily Sentinel the day after her husband’s Feb. 28 shooting death at Timbers Motel, 1810 North Ave., Brent Ingram’s widow, Nancy, said her husband’s body was dragged by officers to the doorway of Room 18, and his clothing was removed.
District Attorney Pete Hautzinger on Tuesday said officers Allen Kwiatkowski and Isaac Gallegos had no choice but to fire their service weapons at an intoxicated Ingram, who was armed with a knife, as he charged one of the officers on Feb. 28.
Gallegos joined the department in July 2007, and Kwiatowski has worked locally since Sept. 2006, Police Department spokeswoman Kate Porras said.
Both men have since returned to their regular patrol duties.
“I am unable to see any reasonable way for the officers to have done anything differently,” Hautzinger wrote in a letter addressed to Grand Junction Police Chief John Camper. “Given the extremely small distances and tight times involved, there was no possibility of deploying a Taser rather than using a handgun. Nor was there any possibility of firing at something other than center mass; indeed doing so would have been directly contrary to all known law enforcement training for situations such as this.”
Kwiatkowski and Gallegos fired four shots, hitting Ingram twice in the chest and killing him in the small room at Timbers Motel.
The investigation, which was headed by Mesa County Sheriff’s investigator Lissah Norcross, found Ingram had a blood-alcohol level of 0.304 percent, nearly four times Colorado’s legal limit for driving, and he recently had used cocaine. Nancy Ingram told investigators her husband had made “vague” suicidal statements
According to Hautzinger’s letter, Kwiatkowski stood in the doorway, while Gallegos entered the room and searched underneath the beds for Ingram.
“At this point the bathroom door burst open and Mr. Ingram came charging out,” Hautzinger’s letter reads. “Both officers could immediately see that Mr. Ingram had a knife in his hand and that he had the knife raised up above his head. Both officers yelled repeatedly at Mr. Ingram to ‘drop the knife, drop the weapon, drop the knife.’
“Mr. Ingram came several feet into the middle of the room, still holding the knife up over his head. He then stopped and stood still, looking back and forth between the two officers.”
The letter did not detail what kind or size of knife Ingram had.
Ingram didn’t communicate with officers, instead offering “loud grunts,” the letter said
“At this point, since Mr. Ingram had stopped, Officer Kwiatkowski decided to drop his left hand from the grip of his handgun in order to reach down to deploy the Taser he had on his belt,” the letter said.
Ingram then focused his attention on Kwiatkowski, and Ingram was shot after taking a “running step” toward Kwiatkowski, the letter said. Ingram and the officers were separated by a distance estimated at 5 to 10 feet.
“Officer Gallegos stated during his interview that he believed Mr. Ingram was about to kill or injure Officer Kwiatkowski, saying, ‘He just ran, like ran towards him, and I was shocked at how fast he was going,’ ” Hautzinger wrote.
Initially called out to the motel on a report of a domestic disturbance, officers moved to contact Ingram after learning he had three outstanding misdemeanor warrants for his arrest. Both officers were “duty bound” to force the issue and arrest Ingram that day, Hautzinger said.
Nancy Ingram on Tuesday said she and her two sons, ages 13 and 10, plan to stay in Grand Junction, and they continue to look for permanent housing. They’ve been staying with friends since Brent Ingram’s death, the immediate aftermath of which was witnessed by her oldest son.
“Wow,” she said of Hautzinger’s conclusions in the case. “I hope this won’t happen to anybody else.”