Deadly deputy-involved shooting ruled justified, family wants better mental health response

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EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. — The 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office found that two El Paso County deputies won’t face any charges for their involvement in the deadly shooting of David Page on September 29, 2019.

The 20-year-old was killed after pointing a B-B gun at the SWAT members. His family said he struggled with mental illness, which they say the Monument Police knew about and that there should have been other ways to safely de-escalate the situation.

Crystina Page, David’s mother and her family’s attorney said the District Attorney’s three-page report isn’t sufficient enough. They still have many questions as to what led up to the shooting. They would like to review all of the video taken that September day, but that hasn’t been released.

Crystina said she’s upset over the lack of information she’s been given since her son died.

“I love that picture he was giving a thumbs up to the gorilla… so much his personality and character,” said Crystina as she reminisced about David.

Crystina said doctors put David on medications early on in his life. He was diagnosed with ADHD and Aspergers.

“He felt very alone, he felt very afraid, he felt very rejected and through the years he was shoved these tools that are supposed to work like journal writing, or singing, or going for a walk with your puppy and those things helped him cope for a minute but they still didn’t solve the perceived injustice and I think he carried those through his life,” Crystina explained.

In 2019, David lived with his grandmother in Monument.

“There was absolutely no firearms allowed in the house and there never have been,” Crystina added. “As far as I know he had two B-B guns in the house, they were $25 Walmart B-B guns.”

Half a dozen incident reports involving David showed that there were no weapons in the home.

“They were very well aware of his mental illness and some of Monument Police had personally interacted with him and it was very clear that it was mental illness and not crime,” Crystina said.

On September 29th, a noise complaint turned deadly. Monument Police had been called to David’s home twice that day. Officers were advised that he was known to be hostile towards law enforcement and had threatened to kill an officer in December.

Crystina had also informed Monument Police about David’s condition and that he had found out his son was stillborn so he was probably having a mental breakdown because of that.

David had also told the first officer that day that he was alone, not hurt and wasn’t suicidal or homicidal. Police were then called back because David had shot B-B’s at two people with one striking a child.

“This is a kid with a toy gun who’s dead and he’s dead because he suffered from mental illness,” said Attorney Josh Tolini.

Within two minutes of the El Paso County SWAT showing up David raised his hand holding what appeared to them as a semi-automatic pistol but it was actually a broken airsoft B-B gun.

“I’m a lot less angry with them than I am with the system cause their involvement with this was very quick,” Crystina said. “My understanding was from the time that they parked the tank in front of my son’s house until the time they shot him dead was less than 2 minutes but the system failed him starting years ago.”

She wants more questions answered about the last moments in her son’s life and why officers didn’t try other tactics before using deadly force.

“I know that there is always an option with him, there’s always something that can be done to de-escelate and to cheer him up and take the edge off,” said Crystina. “Our family has even talked since then that these officers knew that he loved dogs, he wanted to run a wolf rescue if they would have sent in a dog he would have rolled over on the ground and let it lick his face.”

No video of the events that day have been released. Because the deputies who fired the five shots were on the SWAT team there is no body camera footage.

“The El Paso County Sheriff’s Department seems to have made the intentional choice not to put body warn cameras on their officers, one I find that troubling to say the least, but there should have been other officers out there who also had body warn cameras and other vehicles out there and they might not actually capture the shooting itself hopefully it will give us much better clear understanding of the events that lead up to this tragedy,” Tolini added.

It’s a mental health system Crystina wants to see change so others won’t experience the same pain of losing a child.

“I want no family to have to go through this again,” Crystina explained. “I want there to be changes in the way that law enforcement responds to mental health crisis.”

Josh Tolini, the family’s attorney added that David had no criminal record and that shooting a B-B gun would be considered a misdemeanor of criminal mischief. He hopes that the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office will be transparent and show them any video from September 29. If the video is released, they’ll review that and then decide whether or not to take action in federal court.

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office currently has a unit called BCHON that respond to calls involving people experiencing mental health crisis. It’s a team consisting of a deputy and clinician from UCHealth. The Sheriff’s Office did not say if the BCHON unit was sent to Monument on September 29.

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