The shooting death of a man in April by a Colorado Springs police officer was a justified use of deadly force, according to the El Paso County District Attorney’s Office.
On April 22, Officer Christopher Burns, armed with an AR-15 rifle, shot Richard Lee Quintana at a Phillips 66 gas station, according a DA’s decision letter on the shooting released Friday.
Quintana was brandishing what officers, at that time, believed to be an AR-15 type of rifle. It was later determined to be an air gun replica of a rifle.
“Richard Lee Quintana died as the result of a gunshot wound caused by a bullet fired by CPSD
Officer Christopher Burns,” the release said. “This was a Homicide, but the use of deadly physical force by Officer Burns was justified.”
Prior to the shooting, another officer, Jack Olson, had found Quintana asleep behind the wheel of a parked and running vehicle in the 500 block of West Garden of the Gods Road. Olson parked his patrol car behind the vehicle Quintana was in. Olson knocked on the driver’s side window and Quintana put the vehicle into drive in an attempt to jump a curb into an adjacent parking area and flee, the decision letter said. The car high centered and Quintana got out holding the gun.
“As he was doing this Mr. Quintana told Officer Olson, he had a bomb and would set it off,” the decision letter said.
Quintana then circled a nearby motel on foot, with Olson following and more officers arriving at the scene. They soon wound up at the gas station where several officers shouted commands for Quintana to stop and drop the weapon. He did not, according to the release. Quintana, who repeatedly said that he had a bomb, worked his way toward a person pumping gas into a vehicle, and that person ran off. At this point Olson used a Taser on Quintana, but it was ineffective.
“Officers reported that Mr. Quintana attempted to open the driver’s door of the civilian vehicle,” according to the release. “Due to Mr. Quintana’s actions and statements, Officer Burns fired two shots from his AR-15 rifle. Mr. Quintana was struck one time and went to the ground, at which time
officers were able to secure him.”
Quintana was taken to a local hospital where he died.
“Officers made every attempt possible to deescalate the situation without utilizing physical
force, and all those attempts failed,” the release said. “Officer Burns heard some of these commands and observed Mr. Quintana move to the civilian vehicle at the gas pump with a rifle and making threats of having a bomb. Officer Burns perceived this as an escalation of potential lethality.”
Burns objectively and reasonably believed that Quintana posed imminent danger to the officers on scene and to the general public, including children and adults who were at the gas station, the decision letter said.
Among the evidence considered by the shooting investigation team was body camera footage from officers, and surveillance camera footage from nearby businesses.
“After completing a thorough review of the facts and evidence the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office has determined the use of deadly physical force by Officer Burns, was justified under the law of the State of Colorado,” the release said.
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