(COLORADO SPRINGS) — An arrest affidavit for 41-year-old Justin Kula, the man arrested for hitting and killing Parole Officer Christine Guerin Sandoval, shows that Kula thought he was being robbed and had been using drugs at the time of the hit-and-run crash.
According to the arrest papers, Kula’s ex-wife originally contacted parole officers stating she was concerned about his welfare due to drug use. Kula also had an active arrest warrant for a parole violation.
Arrest papers state that Kula’s ex-wife provided his location to State Parole, and that three officers in an unmarked car found Kula sitting in the driver’s seat of a Lexus RX-330 in a parking lot near North Spruce Street and West Bijou Street. The Lexus bore a stolen license plate.
Kula later admitted during an interview that he had been using drugs throughout the morning, including a mixture of methamphetamine and heroin, and that he had been using those drugs while sitting in the parked car waiting for his friends who were inside a convenience store.
Security footage from the convenience store and body-worn camera footage showed Officer Guerin Sandoval approaching the driver’s side of Kula’s car, while two other parole officers approached the passenger’s side. The officers were wearing ballistic vests and had their guns drawn, though the affidavit states that no officer is heard identifying themselves as law enforcement on the body-worn camera footage.
The parole officer who approached the passenger side also told investigators with the Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD) that she “could not recall whether or not she made statements identifying herself as a parole officer or law enforcement.” Her vest was also not marked, though Officer Guerin Sandoval’s vest was marked.
Papers state that Officer Guerin Sandoval gave Kula instructions to show his hands and not to shift the car into gear, after which point Kula put the car in reverse with both the driver’s and passenger’s side doors open. The affidavit states that the speed at which Kula reversed did not allow Officer Guerin Sandoval to move away from the car.
Both Officer Guerin Sandoval and the parole officer on the passenger side were knocked to the ground, and Kula backed into another car before running over Officer Guerin Sandoval and leaving the parking lot. Officer Guerin Sandoval was later found in the northbound lanes of North Spruce Street.
In an interview with investigators following his arrest, Kula said he was suspicious of his ex-wife’s motives for meeting up with him, and assumed that she had “set him up to be robbed.” He said he did not know that the people who approached his car were law enforcement, and “would not have fled if he had known” they were officers.
The arrest affidavit states that investigators believe Kula’s actions “recklessly caused the death of Officer Guerin Sandoval,” and that a “reasonable person” would have associated her commands and her marked vest with a law enforcement officer.
The affidavit also states that due to Kula’s criminal history of failing to appear to court proceedings, as well as parole violations and his attempt to run from officers on the day of Officer Guerin Sandoval’s death, an elevated bond of $250,000 was requested.
Kula faces charges of Manslaughter, Accident Involving Death or Personal Injuries, and Third Degree Assault. He is due in El Paso County Court on Oct. 11.