District Attorney rules May 1 Cañon City officer-involved shooting justified

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CAÑON CITY, Colo.– The officer-involved shooting that took place on May 1, 2021 has been ruled as justified by the 11th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

In late April, CCPD had received many citizen complaints of possible narcotics distribution within a trailer park off of Raynolds Avenue. Some of these reports addressed that dealers were using the Vineyard Church parking lot to meet and distribute narcotics to potential customers.

On May 1, 2021, Cañon City Police Department plainclothes Narcotics Detective Chad Gary and Police Officer Shelby Beck were in an unmarked police car when they found the van in the church parking lot that had been tied to local narcotics-related activities. The plate on the vehicle was missing the month and year registration stickers.

Both officers were not wearing body-worn cameras as they were plainclothes nor wore any police markings.

Officers attempted to follow the vehicle and eventually tracked the van into the back area of the parking lot of the Quality Inn. Officers shouted orders of “police” and “stop” to the vehicle drivers.

While attempting to leave the parking lot, the van passed by the unmarked vehicle while the passenger called out to the officers that the driver wasn’t going to stop.

The vehicle passed by the unmarked police car, revved its engine, accelerated and turned toward the officer. Officers began firing at the driver of the vehicle–seven shots were fired in total.

During the investigation, the shooting was ruled justified because the vehicle Buckholz was operating was attempted during the incident to be used as a deadly weapon against officers.

Officers pulled the driver out of the car and began attempting life-saving medical procedures.

Dalton Lee Buckholz died at the scene from multiple gunshot wounds, with the toxicology report revealing that he had methamphetamine, amphetamines and morphine present in his system. His manner of death has been listed as homicide. The cause of death has been listed as multiple gunshot wounds.

The passenger Kriton Phillips was conscious, taken to a hospital and treated for a non-threatening bullet wound to his abdomen area. Phillips was found to have .5 grams of methamphetamine and heroin on his person.

Chief of Police John Schick said the following in the release, addressing the length of time it took for the shooting to be addressed:

I am relieved to finally offer some context and explanations regarding the officer involved shooting involving two CCPD Officers, which occurred on May 1, 2021. I regret that it has taken us more than five months to provide the family, community, and my officers with the whole story about what happened that evening.

Chief of Police John Schick

Violations of policy were found for both officers regarding the lack of wearing of badges during the incident, that both officers were inappropriate civilian attire during the incident and that the duty sergeant violated department policy by allowing the Detective and officer to discuss the incident before making formal statements.

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