Warning the content of the video linked below may be disturbing for some viewers.
On Thursday, June 15, 2023, the Fountain Police Department released a Critical Incident Briefing video related to the incident featuring the police body camera footage.
(FOUNTAIN, Colo.) — An officer-involved shooting has been ruled justified by the Fourth Judicial District Attorney’s (DA) Office after an officer said his life was in danger when a suspect in a domestic violence situation aimed a rifle at him and refused orders to lower the weapon.
The DA said on Nov. 20, 2022, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office (EPSO) received a phone call from a woman reporting an act of domestic violence against her in the 6900 block of Village Meadows Drive in Fountain by her husband Ross Floersheim.
Officer Brett Ryder of the Fountain Police Department (FPD) was the first to arrive and made contact with the victim in her neighbor’s garage. She claimed Floersheim was preventing her from moving and shoved her to the ground. She said Floersheim was intoxicated and that her 8-year-old son was still in the home.
A second officer, Corporal John Haley of FPD, arrived at the scene to help Officer Ryder check on the welfare of the child. The report states Cpl. Haley had a previous encounter with Floersheim in 2020 when Floersheim was arrested for DUI. Then in 2022, Floersheim apparently called FPD and left a threatening message for Cpl. Haley and another officer, according to the DA’s report.
Because of his prior interaction, Cpl. Haley said it would be a better idea for Officer Ryder to speak with Floersheim. Officer Ryder approached the door with a flashlight in hand and knocked.
Officer Ryder said he heard the “rack” of a gun on the other side of the door, at which point Officer Ryder drew his pistol. The report states, Floersheim emerged with an “AK-style” semi-automatic rifle and aimed the weapon at Officer Ryder.
Officer Ryder recalled Floersheim telling officers to back up. The report said Floersheim was told eight times to drop the weapon and seven seconds had elapsed before Officer Ryder fired a single shot into Floersheim’s stomach.
Floersheim dropped to the ground and reportedly started firing his rifle, and in Body Worn Camera (BWC) footage, at least 23 rounds can be heard. Officers moved to a safer location and called for backup. Later, a tactical team approached Floersheim finding him laying on the floor unable to move due to a spinal cord injury. Floersheim was taken to the hospital where he later died.
According to an interview with Officer Ryder, he believed his life to be in danger due to the weapon aimed at him, and said the time taken to switch to non-lethal force would have exposed both officers to deadly force from Floersheim.
The DA has ruled Officer Ryder’s use of force justified due to the circumstances of the incident that entitles Officer Ryder to “the use of force any other person could use, as provided by C.R.S. 18-1-704.”