DA says Windsor police were justified in exchanging gunfire with hotel shooting suspect

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Windsor police officers who exchanged gunfire with a man they say shot at them from atop a firetruck at a hotel early last month were legally justified in their use of force, 8th Judicial District Attorney Gordon McLaughlin said in his decision letter Friday afternoon.

McLaughlin’s decision comes after his review of the Serious Incident Response Team’s investigation into the Windsor shooting, which was led by the Loveland Police Department. As part of his review, McLaughlin said he viewed the officers’ body camera footage and reviewed their interviews with CIRT investigators.

Because no one was shot or injured in the shooting, a CIRT investigation was not legally required, but McLaughlin said the CIRT investigation was initiated “because of the consent of all parties involved and in the interest of transparency and thoroughness of the investigation.”

more: How Larimer County police shootings and use of force cases are reviewed by a multi-agency team

Two Windsor police officers — Sgt. Steven Cantin and then-Officer Siobhan McTighe, who has since become a sergeant, exchanged gunfire with a man at the AmericInn Lodge and Suites, 7645 Westgate Drive, on Jan. 7. Officers responded at the request of Windsor Severance Fire Rescue personnel, who initially responded to the hotel shortly after 4 p.m. for a fire alarm activation.

Hotel staff told responders that the guest — later identified as Damian Jackson — pulled the fire alarm. When officers arrived, a hotel employee directed them to Jackson, whom the employee described as wearing a reflective vest, acting “erratic” and believed to be armed, according to investigators.

Watch a video interview conducted with Larimer County Sheriff John Finn the night of the shooting here:

Cantin and McTighe approached Jackson with their weapons drawn while a third officer held a ballistic shield, McLaughlin said in his letter.

“As officers approached, Jackson moved around the front of the front of the fire truck to the driver’s side of the truck and began climbing a ladder on the side of the truck,” McLaughlin wrote. “Officers issued several verbal commands ordering him to stop and get out of the truck.” “

McLaughlin’s letter says the officers continued to approach while Jackson climbed onto the top of the truck, pulled out a gun and fired once at the officers. The officers retreated and hid behind a car parked in the parking lot.

Cantin and McTighe exchanged gunfire with Jackson as they “pinned” them behind the parked car. Body camera footage showed each officer fired two shots, and Jackson reportedly fired two shots (in addition to his first shot) during this time, McLaughlin wrote, but it is unclear the order in which the shooting took place. Cantin broadcast on his radio that they had been shot at and that the area needed to be closed off as an “active shooter” scene.

Officers noticed another vehicle in the parking lot, between them and the fire engine, which was occupied by two civilians. At some point during the exchange of fire, these civilians were able to get out of their car and take cover behind the other parked car with the officers.

At approximately 4:45 p.m. — shortly after law enforcement from other nearby agencies arrived — Jackson got off the top of the fire truck and began walking toward officers, McLaughlin said. Jackson reportedly did not listen to commands to stop and get on the ground, so a Larimer County Sheriff’s Office deputy attempted to shock him with a stun gun, but that was unsuccessful. A second deputy successfully used a Taser on Jackson, and he was taken into custody shortly before 5 p.m

Investigators say Jackson had two handguns and was wearing two ballistic vests when he was arrested. A third gun was found on top of the fire truck containing 12 unfired rounds in the gun’s 15-round magazine, according to McLaughlin’s letter, “indicating three shots were fired from the gun.”

McTighe told CIRT investigators that Jackson walked “with intent” when officers first approached him, ignoring their commands. McLaughlin wrote in her letter that she believed Jackson climbed into the fire truck to gain “the high ground” against the officers, and that through Jackson she was trying to kill them.

Cantin told CIRT investigators that he “feared for his life and the life of his team” during the shooting, and he knew Jackson was in a “much better position” when he got on the truck, so they backed up behind a parked car, Cantin said. To McLaughlin’s letter.

At one point, Cantin said he thought he had been shot and asked McTighe if that had happened, and McTighe confirmed that he had not, McLaughlin said in his letter. No one was injured during this shooting.

Investigators also questioned Jackson, but those comments were not included in McLaughlin’s letter because of the ongoing criminal case, McLaughlin said in his letter.

Jackson is accused of:

  • Five counts of attempted murder, a second-degree felony

  • Three counts of first-degree assault, a third-degree felony

  • Five counts of felony menacing, a fifth-degree felony

  • False reporting, a second-degree misdemeanor

  • Resisting arrest, a second-degree misdemeanor

  • Obstructing a peace officer, a second-degree misdemeanor

  • Reckless endangerment, a second-degree misdemeanor

Jackson’s defense attorney, Benjamin Eddings, requested a competency evaluation of Jackson during his February 6 court appearance. Legal competence refers to a person’s ability to participate meaningfully and knowledgeably in legal issues and proceedings.

The judge ordered an evaluation of his mental competency, and Jackson is scheduled to appear in court on March 7. He remains in the Larimer County Jail on $500,000 bail.

All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in court. Arrests and charges are merely accusations by law enforcement until and unless the suspect is convicted of a crime.

This article originally appeared in Fort Collins Colorado: Windsor hotel shooting: Police justified shootout, DA says

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