A single protester showed up to a "rally" against county shooting secrecy


A few media and one citizen were the only ones to show up at the rally. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • A few media and one citizen were the only ones to show up at the rally.
Media, including the Independent, are fighting to know exactly how the shootings went down at the Murray Hill Apartments. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Media, including the Independent, are fighting to know exactly how the shootings went down at the Murray Hill Apartments.
One person showed up at a rally on Tuesday, Aug. 14. Michael Varney was there to express his concern that city and county officials aren't pumping enough resources into public safety.

The intended purpose of the rally was to protest Coroner Robert Bux's desire to keep autopsies of Deputy Micah Flick and auto theft suspect Manuel Zetina, killed in a Feb. 5 shootout at an east-side apartment complex, secret.

Thomas Villanueva, who lived at the complex at that time, was shot during the shootout and paralyzed from the chest down.

But late on Aug. 13, rally organizer Michael DeRossett posted a message on Facebook, saying:

I regret to inform that Thomas has been advised against  the protest.. I will have to step back in the organizing of any further activities Due to I can not pursue something that might effect Thomas in his situation. HOWEVER FEEL FREE TO SUPPORT Thomas Villanueva AND YOUR RIGHTS TO TRANSPARENCY. I step down from here Thomas. I wish you luck
Then, Sallie Villanueva, who's relationship with Thomas wasn't made clear, wrote, "The advisement of our lawyer we have decided not to go we still want people to show up to help support Thomas we still want the records open."

Varney says he lives a mile from where the shooting happened. "I came down here to see what this is all about. I go by that apartment complex all the time. There's always a lot of shady stuff going on. I want to see better attention to public safety issues."

A second rally slated for Aug. 15 at the coroner's office is reportedly still a go.

————-ORIGINAL POST 12:01 P.M. MONDAY, AUG. 13, 2018————————————

A rally will be staged at 9 a.m., Tuesday Aug. 14 outside the El Paso County Courthouse at 270 S. Tejon St., to urge Coroner Robert Bux to release coroner reports for Deputy Micah Flick and alleged auto thief Manuel Zetina.

Both were killed Feb. 5, 2018, in a shootout after a task force consisting of the Colorado Springs Police Department, El Paso County Sheriff's Office and State Patrol attempted to arrest Zetina, reportedly without having their guns drawn, their police insignia showing or announcing who they were.

Wounded in the crossfire was Thomas Villanueva, a passerby who is now paralyzed from the chest down and has filed a notice of claim saying he could file a lawsuit against the county, the city and others. Three officers also were wounded.

Michael DeRossett, who was quoted in the Independent's June 20 report, "Officer (let) down," (at the link above) is organizing the event.

From a Facebook page about the rally:
Join us in our protest of the sealing of public records. Protest with us support Thomas Villanueva in our fact find mission and our search for answers on the 14th and 15th of August. The public deserves answers!

This is a media firestorm! Join us and be a part of the fight for our right to Autopsy records that are supposed to be public record! Do they have something to hide in this case? Who's responsible for all those stray bullets! Who shot who? Did they follow protocol? We demand TRANSPARENCY. We want answers. Our condolences to officer Flicks Family. We do not mean to rehash it all for you. But we must stand for the rights of others as well.
The Indy, the Gazette and other media have challenged Bux's proposal to keep the autopsies sealed forever. Here's what our news editor, J. Adrian Stanley, had to say about his effort.

The group also plans a similar rally outside the Coroner's office, 2741 E. Las Vegas St., at 9 a.m., Wednesday, Aug. 15.

The official report of the shooting hasn't been released, and District Attorney Dan May has yet to issue a finding on whether the shooting was justified.

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