(COLORADO SPRINGS) — On Wednesday, a judge declined to punish law enforcement after documents pertaining to the Club Q shooting suspect’s previous encounters with authorities were leaked while they should have remained sealed.
The suspect was previously involved in a standoff and bomb threat incident in June 2021 at a home in Security-Widefield. Documents detailing that incident were sealed when the case against the shooter was dropped, after the shooter’s family, who were victims of the 2021 incident, declined to testify or comply with subpoenas to appear in court.
The court file was sealed under a Colorado law aimed at preventing people from having their lives ruined if cases are dismissed and never prosecuted.
Those documents were then unsealed on Dec. 8, but not before one local Colorado Springs media outlet received the documents and published the contents.
Lawyers for the shooter accused the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office (EPSO) of leaking the documents, and asked Judge Robin Chittum to hold the office in contempt and order it to pay $10,000 in fines, as well as train staff on the records sealing law.
However, the Associated Press reports that Judge Chittum sided with lawyers for the sheriff’s office, saying that the defense had not presented enough evidence that proved the sheriff’s office was the source of the leak.
“It is just speculation. I can’t make an assumption that it was,” Chittum said.
AP reports that the documents the defense referenced in their accusations had been confirmed authentic by “a law enforcement official who was granted anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the sealed case.”
Chittum argued that the official could have been from a number of local or national law enforcement agencies.
EPSO has repeatedly stood by the actions of its deputies in the 2021 incident, and released a statement when the documents were unsealed, saying that every legal action was taken to keep weapons out of the shooter’s hands before the Nov. 19 shooting at Club Q.
The shooter did submit a request after the 2021 incident requesting their guns be returned, and that request was denied.
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The Associated Press contributed to this story.