(COLORADO SPRINGS) — The 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office has deemed a Colorado Springs Police officer’s use of force during a May 2022 incident unnecessary based on the facts of the case and said it also does not qualify as self-defense. However, the DA will not press charges because a conviction would be difficult to achieve based on protections afforded to law enforcement under Colorado statutes.
The case involves Officer Brandon Lowe with the Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD), who was the first to respond after a series of 911 calls on May 13, 2022, that began with a man, later identified as Osemeke Uwadibie, threatening someone in the parking lot of an apartment complex south of Motor City with a knife.
Officer Lowe did not know at the time of his response to the scene on East Arvada Street that Uwadibie had just committed a murder at the apartment complex, the 4th Judicial DA’s Office said. The officer responded to the display of a knife call, and while he was on his way to the scene, additional 911 calls were received stating that a man was breaking windows into an apartment.
According to the DA’s Office, when Officer Lowe arrived at the scene, he saw Uwadibie actively chasing another person through the parking lot. When the officer opened his patrol car door, he called to Uwadibie, who approached with what appeared to be a metal walking cane. Uwadibie then hit Officer Lowe in the face with the cane and pushed the officer to the ground.
Lowe’s body-worn camera began recording at this point, and the DA’s Office said it shows Officer Lowe pointing his gun at Uwadibie and ordering him to stop, as Uwadibie walked toward Officer Lowe’s patrol car. Uwadibie ignored multiple commands from the officer to stop, got into the patrol car, and put it in gear.
As Uwadibie was driving away in the patrol car, Officer Lowe fired three rounds, hitting Uwadibie in the hand and shoulder. Uwadibie continued driving away, eventually getting onto I-25 southbound, causing several crashes with other cars, before disabling the patrol car in the median. He was taken into custody by additional responding officers.
Other officers who responded to the apartment complex on East Arvada Street discovered the body of a man in an apartment, identified as Charles Slabaugh by the El Paso County Coroner.
Uwadibie was charged with First Degree Murder in Slabaugh’s death, with 13 additional charges including Assault on a Peace Officer, Assault with a Deadly Weapon, and Motor Vehicle Theft, among others.
The DA’s Office found that Officer Lowe’s actions in firing at Uwadibie as he was driving away did not meet the requirements that law enforcement officers must meet before their use of deadly force:
“Officer Lowe’s actions would not satisfy the requirements of a self-defense claim… nor the requirements for use of force by law enforcement… however, this office does not believe that our office would be able to successfully charge and prosecute Officer Lowe based on the current legal standards and protections afforded to law enforcement officers within C.R.S. 18-1-707.”
The DA’s Office said Uwadibie was injured by the shots fired by Officer Lowe, but survived. Based on the fact that Officer Lowe’s use of force did not result in death and the conflict that causes in the law concerning the appropriate standard to employ when an officer fires their weapon, the DA said as the law is currently written, “the statutory language provides officers who utilize force that does not result in death an extremely wide latitude.”
“While the facts present in this case are troubling, there is insufficient evidence to establish probable cause that a crime was committed,” said the DA’s Office. “The lack of probable cause to support criminal charges and coupled with the conflict in the statutory provisions… create a reality that even if charges were filed there would be no reasonable likelihood of success at a subsequent trial on these facts.”