April 19 Officer-Involved shooting ruled justified


A close-up photo of police lights by night

PUEBLO COUNTY, Colo.– The 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office completed its review of the officer-involved shooting which took place on Monday, April 19 in El Paso County, Colo.

The peace officer-involved shooting investigations protocol, all officer-involved shootings that result in injury or death shall be reviewed by a multi-agency Deadly Force Investigation Team.

On Monday, April 19, Colorado State Troopers pursued a suspect and vehicle involved in an attempted armed robbery in Pueblo County, Colo. on northbound I-25.

The suspect was Robert Paul Garcia, age 38 years. He was driving an overdue U-Haul vehicle. In pursuit, City of Fountain police were also involved. Troopers deployed “stop sticks” near the Garden of the Gods exit on I-25 which deflated one tire on the suspect’s vehicle successfully. Near the Woodmen exit on I-25, the suspect’s second driver side tire was successfully deflated. A tactical vehicle intervention was executed at the time, causing the suspect’s vehicle to come to a complete stop.

Garcia did not comply with officers’ verbal commands, placed the vehicle into gear and accelerated forward. Officer Abila with the Fountain Police Department discharged 11 rounds from his duty weapon, striking Garcia five times. Sergeant Lathrop with Colorado State Troopers discharged one round from his duty weapon, striking the left door of Garcia’s vehicle.

The suspect’s vehicle came to a stop, Garcia was removed from the vehicle and administered medical aid by law enforcement. Medical personnel came to the site and transported Garcia from the scene to a hospital in Colorado Springs where he succumbed to his injuries.

Forensic evidence determined Officer Abila to be the individual who fired the fatal round to Garcia’s head. It was ruled as a homicide but the use of deadly, physical force by Officer Abila was justified.

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