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DA clears deputy involved in shooting armed man

By: Amber McIver-Traywick | The Surveyor | December 23, 2022 | Local News

The 8th Judicial District Attorney Gordon McLaughlin has determined that a Larimer County Sheriff’s Office deputy who fatally shot a man armed with a knife following a high-speed chase in October was legally justified in his use of force.

The decision was released in a letter on Monday, Dec. 19 by the district attorney’s office and also stated that a second deputy involved in the case was justified in hitting the man with his gun when the man attempted to get up after he had been shot.

The incident under review occurred Oct. 21 around 10 p.m. near the intersection of Southeast Frontage Road and East County Road 18 in Johnstown near Johnson’s Corner. A deputy located a vehicle the Northern Colorado Drug Task Force had under surveillance in the area displaying expired temporary plates on the Interstate 25 frontage road, according to McLaughlin’s decision letter summarizing his review of the incident. The drug task force asked deputies to stop the vehicle and warned that its female passenger was known to carry a gun and transport fentanyl.

When the deputy turned on his lights the driver of the vehicle failed to pull over running a stop sign at County Road 16 and continuing northbound on Frontage Road at approximately 100 mph.

Deputies attempted two Precision Immobilization Technique maneuvers at the Highway 402 roundabout but were not successful. The suspect drove over the roundabout island and went southbound driving off the round into a field east of Frontage Road where it became disabled and stopped.

According to McLaughlin’s letter, the three deputies involved in the pursuit told the driver and female passenger to put their hands out the window, and the female passenger complied. The male driver, later identified as Christopher Roldan, “exited the driver’s door and ran towards deputies with a knife in his raised hand,” McLaughlin stated in his decision letter. He did not comply with deputies’ demands to stop and drop the knife which the investigation revealed had a 7.5-inch blade.

As Roldan got closer to the deputies one of the deputies fired two rounds from his pistol striking the man once in the abdomen. Deputies told him to show his hands which he refused to do and attempted to get up off the ground when the second deputy stuck him in the side of the head with his rifle. Deputies gained control of Roldan placing him in handcuffs.

The female passenger, identified as Brittany Garcia, was taken into custody without incident or injury. She later told CIRT investigators Roldan said he couldn’t stop when the first deputy attempted to pull him over, and that he didn’t care if he was killed right before getting out the car.

Once Roldan was in custody deputies identified his injuries and performed medical care until emergency services arrived. He was transported to Medical Center of the Rockies where he died from his injuries the next day. He had four active warrants for false reporting and drug possession at the time of the pursuit.

McLaughlin made the determination after reviewing the 8th Judicial District Critical Incident Response Team’s investigation into the deputies’ use of force. That investigation included body camera footage which all of the involved officers turned on during the incident, the report by the CIRT investigators, recorded interviews, photographic evidence, physical evidence and other evidence including the coroner’s report.

Five suspected fentanyl pills and ledgers investigators say are commonly used by drug dealers to track payments were found in the vehicle.

In his decision, McLaughlin stated, “…There will be no criminal charges filed as a result of this incident. Mr. Roldan is deceased and cannot face charges for his actions…the only officers to use force, acted justifiably under the law and will not be charged.”

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