Cop-shooting suspect had history with police

Phillip Amonette

A man accused of shooting a Rifle cop Friday night threatened earlier this year to kill his girlfriend if she called police after the two got in a dispute over money, she told police at the time.

The girlfriend told a Rifle officer in February that the threat by Phillip Michael Amonette scared her because he always carried a .357 handgun on him or in his Jeep, although he didn’t threaten her with it during the argument. She also said that on another occasion when they lived in Silt, he threatened to kill himself with a gun during an argument, and pulled the trigger but was not hit.

The statements are contained in the officer’s arrest affidavit in the February case.

The girlfriend also later said in a written statement to authorities that she thought his stay in jail after his arrest over that incident “humbled” him.

“It’s a place he told me he never wanted to visit again,” she said.

The 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office dismissed the resulting menacing charge in March, citing an inability to meet its burden of proof.

The girlfriend runs the U-Haul facility on Whiteriver Avenue in Rifle, where the two also have been living.

On Friday, Amonette allegedly fired a handgun at an officer responding to a domestic violence call there, striking the officer’s bullet-proof vest, before police shot him multiple times and arrested him.

The officer was treated and released from Grand River Hospital in Rifle. Amonette, 53, was arrested on suspicion of first-degree attempted murder and bond was set at $1 million. He underwent surgery at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction and was in critical condition Saturday but was no longer a patient there Monday.

The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the shooting, declined to identify Amonette’s whereabouts Monday, citing safety considerations.

He had not been booked into the county jail in Glenwood Springs, and had not been admitted to Grand River Hospital in Rifle. Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs does not disclose names or conditions of patients.

In the case of the Feb. 25 domestic violence call, an officer spoke to the girlfriend by phone after Amonette had left the scene, and she said she was “scared of him because she thinks this time he might do something.”

When the Rifle officer reached Amonette by phone, he reportedly said he didn’t remember threatening his girlfriend, but told her not to call police because he didn’t think they needed to get involved.

The girlfriend told authorities that although he never hit her during their 10-year relationship, he had a bad temper, sometimes threw things and slammed doors, and once put a hole in a door.

Amonette had to surrender his gun temporarily following the February arrest.

“Taking away his gun rights is taking away a part (major part) of his soul, his being,” his girlfriend wrote in her statement.

She said Amonette, a certified hydraulic mechanic, had difficulty finding work due to the economy, and it had been a financial struggle for her since taking over the U-Haul business.


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