Rifle officer cleared in shooting

An investigation has cleared a Rifle police officer of criminal wrongdoing in the shooting of Phillip Amonette last fall.

The Ninth Judicial District Attorney’s Office has concluded that no criminal charges “can be filed or proven,” the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release Monday.

The officer shot and seriously wounded Amonette after Amonette fired on a second officer, striking his protective vest, in an Oct. 22 incident. The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office investigated the shooting at the request of Rifle Police Chief Daryl Meisner and DA Martin Beeson. Beeson plans to make the complete findings available to the public after completion of the prosecution of Amonette.

The officers’ names have not been made public. Meisner could not be reached for comment Monday.

Amonette, 53, faces charges including first-degree attempted murder after deliberation and is in Garfield County Jail in lieu of $1 million bond.

He is accused of shooting the officer with a large-caliber handgun after two officers responded to a domestic violence call. Police say the other officer shot Amonette multiple times.

The officers returned to active duty after Meisner’s own investigation and initial sheriff’s office findings.

Amonette suffered life-threatening injuries and underwent multiple surgeries. He has appeared in court seated in a wheelchair and with one arm in a sling. As of mid-March, his medical care in jail had cost the county nearly $78,000.

Security by a private firm during his stay at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction cost Rifle $27,000 and the county $18,175.

The shooting was the second involving Rifle police in less than three months. Arizona prison escapee Daniel Renwick fired at officers and struck one of their cars before police rammed his car and arrested him in Rifle Aug. 1. Renwick, who wasn’t injured, recently pleaded guilty to first-degree attempted murder charges in connection with the incident.


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