(PUEBLO COUNTY, Colo.) — On February 22, 2022 Richard Ward accompanied his mother to pick up his younger brother from Liberty Point International Middle School. Pueblo County Sheriff’s Deputies were called to the scene when Ward opened the door to the wrong car.
Darold Killmer, Partner in the Denver civil rights firm of Killmer, Lane & Newman, LLP, is one of the civil rights attorneys representing the Ward family. Killmer said Ward got out of the car to give his mother privacy on a work phone call and when he returned, he accidently opened the door to a different white SUV.
“But it was kind of cold, so he decided to go back to the car,” Killmer said. “And when he went back to the car, Christie, who was driving a white SUV, there were several white SUVs in the parking lot at the time, and Richard accidentally got in the wrong one.”
Deputies were called to the scene where they approached Ward and questioned him in his mother’s car on what had happened.
“Deputy McWhorter confronted Richard and started asking him questions. ‘What’s going on? What are you doing here?’ Richard was nervous, and he even told the officer that,” Killmer said. “He goes, ‘I have anxiety, I have anxiety with police’ and the officer sort of interrogated him on that.”
Killmer shared that Ward felt a medical tablet in his pocket and took it which is when he was pulled out of the car by deputies.
“Richard took an anxiety pill in front of him, and this seemed to upset Deputy McWhorter,” Killmer said. “But why did he need to yank him out of the car and throw him down on the ground and jump on him?”
Ward was shot three times and Killmer said Ward did not receive any medical attention while he laid on the ground.
“And as a result, they just stood over Richard and watched him die over the course of the next several minutes,” Killmer said. “They must not have been trained as to what to do. The whole event tells me that they haven’t really been trained other than armed with deadly force and told to go out there.”
On Tuesday afternoon, the Ward family along with their civil rights attorneys held a press conference in Denver outside the United States Federal Courthouse.
“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about how I’ll never get to have another phone conversation with my brother,” Richard’s brother, Eddy Stamp, said. “I feel robbed of a brother. My mom feels robbed of a son. We’ve been robbed of a nephew. My future children robbed of an uncle, and I’m robbed of future nieces and nephews.”
At the press conference, the announcement of a federal civil rights lawsuit filed against Pueblo County, six deputies, and a sergeant with the Sheriff’s Office.
“Every single day, they think about Richard, but they’ve expressed to us, and I believe them, that they’re very determined to get some accountability in the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office,” Killmer said. “These two deputies who killed Richard were put right back on the street basically immediately.”
Richard’s mother spoke at the press conference on Tuesday and said, “it’s just shattered this whole family.”
Now almost a year later, the family is seeking responsibility for the death of their loved one.
“I want justice and accountability for my family and for my brother,” said Eddy Stamp.
In response to defending Ward and his family, Killmer said “to me it’s horrifying, something has to be done to tell them this is not the way we want them to police the community.”
FOX21 reached out to the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office and they did not provide comment on the incident. FOX21 also reached out to the 10th Judicial District Attorney’s Office and did not receive a statement.