Police force expert: ‘Nothing more justifiable’ than I-70 shooting scenario | PostIndependent.com

Police force expert: ‘Nothing more justifiable’ than I-70 shooting scenario

Emergency vehicles respond to the shooting Tuesday afternoon on I-70 west of Glenwood Springs.
Harry Faulker / Special to the Post Independent |

An expert on the use of police force said Wednesday that the shooting of a man on Interstate 70 west of Glenwood was a “very clear situation” calling for deadly force.

Law officers shot and killed the man shortly before 5 p.m. Tuesday following a 28-mile chase from Parachute, where he was a suspect in a domestic violence incident, Garfield County sheriff’s spokesman Walt Stowe said. After the State Patrol used spikes to flatten the front tires of his pickup truck, the man exited the interstate, got out of the truck and held a gun to his head.

Then, Stowe and witnesses passing by said, he ran down an embankment toward traffic on the interstate.

That was a “nightmare scenario” for officers, leaving them with “very little they can do in terms of alternatives,” said Maria Haberfeld, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, an author of several books on terrorism and policing, including “Critical Issues in Police Training.

“In general terms, police officers can use deadly force when under the impression that their life or somebody else’s life is in danger,” she said in an email. “A person running on a busy highway, with a gun, is more than an impression, this is a deadly threat to other commuters, at any given moment he could have caused a fatal traffic incident or/and shot somebody so, to me, it is 100 percent by-the-book behavior on the part of the police officers.”

She said in a telephone interview that officers had to “eliminate the danger” and likely couldn’t get close enough to use other means to subdue him, such as a Taser.

“I can’t see anyone challenging deadly force,” she said. “Here you had a person who was actively endangering other people. … Nothing is more justifiable.”

She noted, too, that officers are trained to shoot for center mass to stop people who are posing a threat.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation will conduct a review of the incident, which involved Garfield County deputies. The dead man has not been identified.

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