3 Delta officers cleared in fatal shooting
Three Delta police officers were justified in fatally shooting a 59-year-old man, authorities concluded.
Relatives of the man who died, Larry A. Brown, dismissed the report Wednesday.
“It was a false shooting, and it’s being covered up,” said Brown’s brother-in-law, Carl Nation.
The family has consulted with an attorney in Denver, Nation said.
The report signed by Jean Woodford of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office concluded that deadly force had been used against the officers, and they were justified in returning fire.
Brown, according to the El Paso County coroner, had blood-alcohol content of 0.226 percent, or nearly three times the legal limit for driving, the report said. Traces of opiates and benzodiazepine metabolites were found in Brown’s system, the report said. Benzodiazepine is an antidepressant.
Two Delta police officers, Ardean Young and Todd Huff, confronted Brown about 1:15 a.m. Oct. 23 as they looked into a report of a man with a gun and shots being fired in the 800 block of Grand Avenue.
The officers arrived separately in the 700 block of Grand about the same time and began walking toward the 600 block, where they had been told the man with a gun was heading.
Both officers reported hearing a voice saying words to the effect of, “I see you,” and Huff ordered the person to show his hands, the report said.
The individual responded by firing a shot at Huff and then at Young, who fired back simultaneously, the report said.
Young fired two more rounds while taking cover as the shooter continued firing at the officers. The shooter took a kneeling position with his weapon, the report said, and Young fired two more times, while Huff fired once more.
The shooter then fell to the ground, and no more shots were fired, the report said.
About four minutes elapsed between the time the confrontation began and emergency medical personnel examined Brown and were unable to detect a pulse, the report said.
Brown was hit twice in the head and once in the left shoulder by gunfire, the report said.
Investigators found five spent .45-caliber cartridges near Brown’s body. He was found with a .45-caliber handgun near his body, the report said.
A sixth .45-caliber shell casing believed to have been fired by Brown was found in an alley near 602 Grand Ave. Occupants of that residence had reported shots being fired, the report said.
“In such fast-paced, intense, armed confrontations, police officers are forced to make life-and-death decisions,” Woodford wrote in the conclusion to the report. “It was not unreasonable for officers Huff and Young to return fire when shots were fired at them. “Given the use of deadly force against them, both officers were legally justified under Colorado law, in using deadly force against Mr. Brown.”
Investigators also found one .40-caliber casing in the area where Huff said he fired a shot from his Glock .40-caliber handgun while taking cover. Five other .40-caliber casings were found along the route Young said he traversed during the shooting. Young carried a similar firearm.
Woodford’s ruling also cleared Delta Police Sgt. Jesse Stanford, who responded but was not involved in the shooting.
Woodford, first assistant attorney general, also has headed the 7th Judicial District since the arrest of District Attorney Myrl Serra.
All three officers have been handling desk duties since the shooting and will be placed immediately back on the full-duty schedule, the Delta Police Department said.
Nation said he remained dubious of the events listed in the report and insisted Brown was complying with orders to get down on the ground, “and for some reason the cops went berserk and started shooting.”
Had Brown been looking for a fight, he would have taken cover, Nation said.
In any case, Nation said, Brown had recently received a disability ruling from the military and was optimistic about his future.
“He was happy as could be,” Nation said. “Everything was just starting to work for him.”