Flurry of filings made in ex-chief’s shooting case
A defense attorney for a former Grand Junction police officer accused of acting recklessly when he shot a coworker while inspecting a rifle at a local gun shop wants to prove prosecutors are being vindictive by pressing charges against his client.
According to two of several motions filed on behalf of Richard Bacher, 56, attorney Stephan Schweissing wants records of all accidental weapon discharges by other police officers in the 9th and 21st Judicial Districts.
“Should the evidence exist which shows that similar accidental discharges have occurred in the Ninth Judicial District without prosecution, the question then becomes one of why the decision was made here to prosecute,” the motion said.
Bacher was charged with misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon, prohibited use of a weapon and reckless endangerment for a Feb. 9 shooting at Jerry’s Outdoor Sports, 507 30 Road, in which Kenny Franklin, 54, was shot in the stomach.
Customer Michael Dean of Loma brought in a rifle, allegedly loaded, to be repaired. Store owner Jerry Stehman was charged with misdemeanor reckless endangerment in the incident. Dean, who also initially faced a charge of reckless endangerment, has since had that charge dismissed, though prosecutors have filed a motion to resurrect it.
Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger handed the case over to District Attorney Martin Beeson of the 9th Judicial District to avert a conflict of interest.
According to the motions, Bacher’s attorney also wants to confidentially test and examine the .243-caliber rifle used in the shooting and to suppress initial statements Bacher made to police, allegedly before he was read his rights.
Motions in response from the 9th District said the disclosure of all records of accidental discharges are not relevant and are “overly burdensome,” and that the defense should be allowed to inspect and test the weapon, but only in the presence of a third party.
Mesa County Judge Bruce Raaum has ruled that the defense be given criminal histories of all witnesses in the case. Raaum will rule on the other motions during a Nov. 4 hearing.
Bacher started with the Grand Junction Police Department in 1976 and left in 2002. He served as Delta’s police chief for about a year and resigned in October 2007.
Bacher also worked briefly as a probation officer in the 21st Judicial District in 2002 and 2003.