Fort Collins police officer’s use of force is legally justified by District Attorney

Matthew Bailey

An outside criminal investigation regarding a Fort Collins police officer’s use of force has been legally justified by the District Attorney, according to a May 17 press release published by Fort Collins Police Services.

The incident under review occurred on March 29, 2018, during which a Fort Collins police officer along with one additional assisting officer used several less-lethal tools in an attempt to gain the compliance of an adult female suspect after she verbally and physically resisted custody.

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“Per policy, all uses of force are reviewed by the officer’s chain of command,” said FCPS Public Relations Manager Kate Kimble in a YouTube video published by FCPS. “An internal review of the body camera and store surveillance video raised concerns about the force used in this case.”

The police officer under review responded to a call aired by dispatch on March 29 to assist with a shoplifting suspect who was reportedly fighting with staff. He was on his way home after finishing his shift when he answered the call, and he was still in uniform and was driving a marked police vehicle.

The officer was the first law enforcement personnel to arrive at the scene, which took place at a Target located at 105 W. Troutman Parkway. Upon arrival, the officer located the involved parties in the loss prevention office area.

During the incident, the officer attempted to take the female shoplifting suspect into custody for approximately six minutes, during which the suspect was verbally and physically resisting.

A second police officer arrived at the scene, and the suspect was taken into custody after an additional two minutes.

Interim Police Chief Terry Jones contacted the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office and requested an independent investigation into the incident in order to determine if the officer’s use of force violated any criminal laws.

“The officer was placed on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation,” Kimble said. “An internal administrative investigation was also opened and is still ongoing. At its conclusion, the case will be sent to the Citizen’s Review Board.”

Since the officer’s actions have been legally justified and the criminal investigation into his actions has concluded, the officer will return to duty in a non-enforcement capacity until the internal investigation concludes.

Footage from the incident has not been released as the criminal case against the suspect is ongoing, and footage will not be released until the conclusion of her case.

“Transparency and community trust are high priorities for Fort Collins Police Services, and we’re committed to talking openly with our residents about any issues of concern here in Fort Collins,” Kimble said.

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Anyone seeking previous information about this case can visit this website. Anyone seeking further details regarding this case can visit this website.

Collegian news reporter Matt Bailey can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @matnes1999.