No charges for officers in Rifle shooting

Law enforcement officers secure the scene of the officer involved shooting Aug. 5 on the Highway 13 bridge at Rifle.
Kyle Mills/Post Independent

The officers who shot and killed an armed Rifle man in August will not face criminal charges, 9th District Attorney Jeff Cheney announced Tuesday.

Following a three-month investigation, the DA “concluded that no officer committed a criminal violation” when shooting Allan George, then 54, in the back on the Rifle bridge as he attempted to flee arrest while armed on Aug. 5.

George never pointed his handgun at Cpl. Dewey Ryan or Officer Shelby McNeal, the two officers involved, but Ryan still didn’t commit a crime in shooting him, the DA determined. Less-lethal force was not an option, according to the officers.

“Arguably … Corporal Ryan could have fired his firearm at Mr. George as soon as he removed the handgun from concealment and openly presented it,” according to the report.

The two officers exhausted all possible measures in trying to get George to submit to arrest, according to the report. In total, Ryan and McNeal told George to put his gun down 46 times, according to a transcript of the audio recording device one of the officers was wearing.

“Where over three dozen orders to drop the weapon go unheeded, prevailing law does not require a police officer to wait until an armed and dangerous felon has drawn a bead on the officer or others before using deadly force,” the report said.

According to the report, there is evidence that George was considering suicide leading up to the incident.

George was wanted on charges of possessing child pornography, and the investigation had been going on for several weeks with his knowledge, according to the report.

George had pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a child in Lake County in 2009, and in April 2019, an FBI task force investigation located George on a private Kik Messenger group that shared child pornography.

Officers interviewed George, while he was working a construction site in Vail, and he told them he “knew it was wrong, but explored several groups on Kik” looking for child pornography.

On July 30, George’s wife requested a welfare check while she was out of state, and reported that George had made suicidal statements. She also told Rifle Police that George told her he was not “going back to jail without a fight.”

A judge in Eagle County issued a warrant for George’s arrest on the morning of Aug. 5. Police visited George’s home, where his wife informed them George carried a firearm with him.

Ryan and McNeal parked their patrol vehicles on the intersection of Interstate 70 and Colorado Highway 13, at around 6:30 Aug. 5, and spotted George in his work truck around 7:11 p.m.

They pulled him over on the bridge, and George got out without being told to do so and displayed the handgun.

What followed was several minutes of confrontation. Officers kept their weapons on George and gave numerous commands for him to drop his weapon.

At one point, McNeal asked George, “So, what can we do to make you put the gun down?”

George ignored all commands, the report said. The officers believed George was going to jump off the bridge. McNeal alerted dispatch to “get river rescue team ready.”

George did not jump, but ran toward the city of Rifle, and was shot in the back twice by Ryan, according to the report.

Part of the incident was captured on video and provided to law enforcement and the Post Independent.

According to the officers, using a less-lethal TASER was not an option. When George produced the gun, he pointed it almost immediately at himself.

“Using a TASER could have caused him to squeeze the trigger and shoot himself or cause him to fall into the swift river and drown,” according to the report.

McNeal has been reinstated as an officer with the Rifle Police Department, chief Tommy Klein said, after the investigators determined she did not fire her weapon.

Ryan, who fired the two shots, is still on administrative leave pending further administrative review, Klein said.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the employment status of the two officers.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.