DA: Fritze turned to deputies, raised gun before they shot him
No charges are warranted against Garfield County sheriff’s officers Justin Wareham and Lester Gherardini in the February shooting death on Interstate 70 of Brian Fritze, Ninth Judicial District Attorney Sherry Caloia said in a letter to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
Fritze was shot to death on Feb. 10 after a high-speed chase along I-70.
After the Colorado State Patrol used spikes to flatten the front tires of the truck, Fritze exited the interstate at Canyon Creek where police said he got out of the truck and held a gun to his head. Then, according to Caloia’s letter, he walked toward the eastbound lanes despite orders to surrender before turning toward officers and raising the weapon, prompting Wareham and Gheradini to fire.
In the aftermath, Fritze’s father, Melvin, said his son was “always friendly and never knew a stranger,” but “alcohol and drugs were always there as his demons.” After turning his life around for a while, he said Brian had a “break with reality” in 2014. Melvin Fritze suggested that his son may have let law officers “do the job he couldn’t do.”
Fritze was a suspect in a domestic violence case on the day of his death and, according to Caloia, would have faced charges of assault, menacing, eluding, driving under the influence and reckless endangerment, among others, had he survived.
“Under the specific facts of the case, the Office of the District Attorney finds that the deputies’ actions in shooting and ultimately killing Fritze were justified in defense of themselves and others,” she wrote.
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