Tuesday, August 21, 2018

DA: Deadly force justified in shootout that killed Flick

Posted By on Tue, Aug 21, 2018 at 6:12 PM

click to enlarge District Attorney Dan May briefed reporters Aug. 21 about his findings of whether officers were justified in the Feb. 5 shooting. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • District Attorney Dan May briefed reporters Aug. 21 about his findings of whether officers were justified in the Feb. 5 shooting.
Auto theft suspect Manuel Zetina got off at least six shots, striking five people, before officers  returned fire, according to a report issued Aug. 21, by District Attorney Dan May regarding the Feb. 5 shootout that claimed the life of El Paso County Deputy Micah Flick, injured three officers and paralyzed an innocent bystander.

The purpose of May's report was to determine whether the three officers who fired their weapons that day were justified in using deadly force, and he found that they were. His objective was not to determine whether the officers used reasonable tactics to effect the arrest of 19-year-old Zetina, who May said had been smoking methamphetamine prior to the shooting.

Much of May's report mirrors the Independent's June 20 account of what happened at the Murray Hill Apartments about 4 p.m. on Feb. 5 when 10 members of a multi-agency auto theft task force followed Zetina into the parking lot of the complex where Zetina lives. However, May reports that Deputy Scott Stone was the first to grab Zetina in a "bear hug" and was the first to be shot by Zetina (whereas the Indy's sources had said it was Flick who bear-hugged the suspect and was the first shot). Flick then wrestled with Zetina for his gun and was fatally shot in the struggle, the report said.

Meanwhile, none of the officers identified Thomas Villanueva, 28, as endangered by the imminent take-down as he walked across the parking lot from getting a meal just east of the complex. Villanueva was shot through the spine by Zetina, as proven by ballistics and DNA evidence, the report said.

All the officers injured that day were shot by Zetina, May reported, and officers returned eight rounds, three of which struck Zetina.

May also acknowledged that none of the task force members, from the Colorado Springs Police Department, the El Paso County Sheriff's Office and the State Patrol, were wearing visible police insignia, directly contradicting accounts provided a day after the shooting by Sheriff Bill Elder and CSPD spokesperson Lt. Howard Black. They said officers did have police insignia showing.

May also acknowledged, as the Indy reported, that none of the officers announced their presence until the instant Stone grabbed Zetina, which has led to some speculation about whether Zetina knew he was being grabbed by police officers.

Prosecutor Margaret Vellar, however, who reviewed the CSPD investigative report, told reporters investigators aren't sure Zetina knew he was being tracked by officers, but added, "It appears he did know."

May said the report concludes his investigation and that he knows of no other agency that is investigating the case.

Villanueva, who's paralyzed from the chest down, has filed a notice of claim, a preface to a lawsuit, and lives with his parents in Pueblo. He and his family and friends staged a protest on Aug. 15, demanding information about what happened that day.

There was no mention during the press conference whether the autopsy reports of Flick and Zetina would now be released. Coroner Robert Bux has asked a District Court judge to keep them sealed to assuage the grief of the Flick family. The Indy and Gazette have joined to seek the release of the reports.

Here's the DA's report, following by a map of the shooting scene at the time the shooting took place:
click to enlarge COURTESY DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
  • Courtesy District Attorney's Office

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