Local prosecutors will be considering whether Rifle police officers should face any criminal charges in connection with Monday's fatal shooting of a man who had been pulled over in a vehicle because there was a warrant out for his arrest.
Following an autopsy Wednesday, Garfield County Coroner Robert Glassmire said that Rifle resident Allan George, 57, died of two gunshot wounds to the chest, and Glassmire's office is investigating the manner of death as a homicide.
He said the term "homicide" doesn't necessarily mean a crime was committed.
"A determination regarding whether the death of a person was the result of a crime is determined by the criminal justice system," he said.
The incident occurred on a bridge where Colorado Highway 13 crosses the Colorado River just off Interstate 70. Rifle police have said two officers made contact with George and shots were fired.
The multiagency 9th Judicial District Critical Incident Team, which is investigating the shooting per standard procedure for officer-involved shootings, said in a news release that George "would not comply with directives," and shots were fired for "the health, safety and welfare of the general public as well as the (o)fficers present."
Rifle police said a weapon not belonging to the officers was found at the scene.
George was taken to a local hospital but died shortly after the shooting.
The officers, whose names haven't been made public, were placed on administrative leave after the incident. The Rifle Police Department also is conducting its own administrative review of the matter.
Walt Stowe, a spokesman for the investigative team and for the Garfield County Sheriff's Office, which is leading the team's investigation, said the report he got is that George was witnessed getting out of a vehicle with a gun.
"What happened after that, I don't have all the details," he said.
He said the team isn't releasing much information so as not to compromise the investigation.
The results of that investigation will go to the office of 9th Judicial District Attorney Jeff Cheney.
Cheney made the results of such an investigation public following a recent case of an officer-involved fatal shooting in Rangely. In that case he determined criminal charges weren't warranted.
Stowe said that if someone has a gun and doesn't follow officers' orders to drop it, it is standard protocol for officers to use whatever force is necessary. In Monday's case, George was on a bridge with passing motorists and could have fired on motorists or officers, Stowe said.
"That could happen very fast when the gun's in hand," Stowe said.
Stowe said investigators have heard from some witnesses after the team put out a request that people who may have seen what happened during the incident, perhaps while driving by, contact investigators.
George was wanted on a warrant issued Monday out of Eagle County, apparently related to a charge of sexual exploitation, which usually is related to possession of child pornography, according to Bruce Brown, district attorney for the 5th Judicial District, which includes Eagle County.
Cheney said on Tuesday that he had a prosecutor participating in the investigative process.
"All officer-involved shootings have to be reviewed. At some point that definitely will occur. I will review the case," he said.