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Police shootings can pose a risk to innocent civilians

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Not everyone on the business end of a police firearm deserves to be shot at, records show.

On Feb. 3, 2010, Kevin Rogers was minding his own business when Colorado Springs Police Officer Jamie Royal shot at him.

It was all a misunderstanding that began when a resident on the 3300 block of Beechwood Court called police to report a burglary in progress in a home nearby. Two white men were inside, the neighbor reported.

Officers Royal and Jerry Owens pulled up, finding the garage door open. As they walked through the garage, “a man suddenly appeared in the doorway” into the home, the DA’s report says.

Rogers raised his arms in what officers viewed as a “shooting stance.” Moreover, they thought they saw “something” in his hand.

“Officer Royal fired one shot at this individual who fell to the ground,” the DA report says. “However, the shot was fired into the garage wall and no one sustained any injuries.”

That’s fortunate, because, as the DA reports, “It was later determined that these two individuals had been given permission to work in the home by the home owner.”

In another case, occupants of a house narrowly missed being injured by an officer’s bullet that lodged in their home and was intended for someone else.

CSPD Officer Christopher Darrow noticed a Jeep driving south with its headlights off on Circle Drive at 9:30 p.m. on April 5, 2008. Attempting a traffic stop to give a warning, Darrow soon found himself chasing the passenger, who jumped from the car and took off, hopping a fence. Two attempts to use a Taser on Aaron Hersch, who’s Hispanic, failed. When Hersch stopped, turned toward the officer and grabbed at his waistband, Darrow ordered him to ”get your hands up.” When he failed to do so, Darrow fired a single round.

The bullet missed Hersch but went through the living room of a home on Casden Avenue 200 feet away, “narrowly missing two members of our community,” the DA’s report says.

In a third case, on Feb. 5, 2018, Thomas Villanueva, then 28, took a gunshot in his back, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down. The incident was the result of a suspect engaged in a gunfight with several officers, who neglected to keep Villanueva clear of the area.

The suspect, Manuel Zetina, who was Hispanic, also wounded three officers and took the life of Deputy Micah Flick. Zetina, too, was killed.

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