COLORADO SPRINGS — The 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office said no charges will be brought against the three Colorado Springs police officers involved in a fatal shooting that killed 38-year-old Joshua Vigil this year after the office completed its review Monday.
The incident occurred on July 23 just before 6 p.m., when the officers responded to a report of a suspicious man walking with a gun in the 2200 block of Monterey Road.
The report notes, Vigil was ignoring officers’ orders to drop the weapon and grabbed another gun inside of a red car. It said Vigil threw a bottle of alcohol out of the car before speeding away.
About 20 minutes later, CSPD found the red car crashed into a barrier with a handgun on the floorboards. Officer Lucas Aragon spotted Vigil as he jumped a fence into a senior living apartment complect near Shasta Drive and East Fountain Blvd.
Witness accounts recall Vigil threatening residents, including children, in the apartment courtyard.
Vigil entered the lobby of the Fountain Garden Apartments near Fountain Boulevard and Chelton Road, which was locked. Shortly after, three officers, including Aragon, made contact with Vigil again, telling him to put his hands up, order Vigil again ignored.
Officer Aragon told investigators, he saw Vigil rotate his body and his right hand, which held the gun and then fired at Vigil. Aragon’s account, the report notes, was corroborated by a witness in the lobby.
Officer Cole Jones subsequently, saying he feared for his safety and that of his fellow officers and bystanders. Sergeant Mark Keller also fired his weapon when he Vigil raises his weapon and “saw the muzzle flash of the weapon firing,” the report says.
The suspect was then taken to a hospital where he died.
Before Officer Aragon responded to the Vigil, he and another officer were about to assist on a domestic violence call of a person with a knife. Aragon’s body-worn camera captures him saying, “Let’s just go help, so if we can shoot this dude,” when referring to the domestic violence situation, unrelated to the situation involving Joshua Vigil.
In its report the DA’s office said:
“The 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office found Officer Aragon’s prior statement to be troubling, however, Joshua Vigil’s increasingly erratic behavior – including menacing citizens with a weapon, repeatedly refusing to cooperate or follow officers’ commands, then rotating his body and right hand, as witnessed by a resident, along with the fact that he was attempting to enter the lobby area of the senior living center and was only prevented from doing so by a glass wall and door – presented the officers with a situation in which they believed either their safety or the safety of the residents, was in danger. Officer Aragon indicated that he fired because he believed that the suspect had rotated his body and right hand as if to fire, or take cover from officers, and he believed his safety, as well as the safety of other officers, was in danger. A corroborating witness confirmed the officer’s account. As such, no charges will be filed against Officer Aragon. “
Colorado Springs Police Chief Vince Niski took issue with his officer’s comments being included in the report.
In a statement released late Monday afternoon he said:
“I am disappointed in the District Attorney’s decision to include information that was irrelevant to the incident involving Mr. Vigil. While Officer Aragon’s comment was inappropriate, the District Attorney added unnecessary confusion by implying it was related to the officer-involved shooting. While this in no way justifies or excuses Officer’s Aragon’s comment, we want to make sure the facts are brought forth in a clear and transparent manner, as the public deserves a complete picture with full context.”
CSPD spokesperson, Lt. James Sokolik said, an internal investigation into Officer Aragon’s comments began about a week ago—when the Department had been notified the criminal investigation into the July 23 shooting had concluded.
Lt. Sokolik gave no indication Aragon’s comments would have become public knowledge had the DA’s office not included them in its report.
In the autopsy, the coroner notes the presence of “several narcotics and other drugs” in Vigil’s blood, including alcohol, methamphetamine, and cocaine.
The district attorney’s office also includes its legal justification, as according to Colorado law:
“According to Colorado Revised Statutes §18-1-707 a peace officer is justified in using deadly physical force upon another person for a purpose specified in subsection (1) of this section only when he reasonably believes that it is necessary:
- (a) To defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of deadly physical force; or
- (b) To effect an arrest, or to prevent the escape from custody, of a person whom he reasonably believes:
- (I) Has committed or attempted to commit a felony involving the use or threatened use of a deadly weapon;
In addition, Colorado Revised Statutes 18-1-704 provides all citizens with the right to defend others with deadly force if they reasonably believe another is in imminent danger of being killed or receiving great bodily injury and reasonably believe a lesser degree of force is inadequate.”
No charges will be filed against Officer Aragon, Officer Jones, and Sgt. Keller.