DA: Larimer County deputy justified fatally shooting man while serving eviction notice

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A Larimer County Sheriff’s Office deputy who shot and killed a Fort Collins man while deputies served the man a court order for eviction was legally justified in her use of force, according to the 8th Judicial District Attorney’s Office assessment of the investigation.

The district attorney made the decision after reviewing the 8th Judicial District Critical Incident Response Team’s investigation into the deputy’s use of force. That investigation includes CCTV footage from the two deputies involved and other reports from CIRT investigators. The office shared the decision in a letter published Friday.

The decision letter stated that Cpl. Margaret Johanson had the right to fatally shoot the man, 62-year-old Randy Goens, at the Timber Ridge South mobile home community in Fort Collins “to defend herself and her fellow delegate against the threat” Goens posed at the time.

Goens had previously been served an eviction notice, and Johanson and another sheriff’s deputy went to his residence in the mobile home park on December 8 to remove him from the residence.

Johanson knocked on the door, and when Goens answered she told him they were there for an eviction and asked if he was the only one home. He said “no,” then raised a concealed rifle from behind and aimed it directly at Johanson, according to the prosecutor’s letter, which includes screenshots of Johanson’s body camera footage showing Goens holding a rifle. out his front door.

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Johanson and the other deputy told Goens to drop the gun three times in the four to five seconds before Johanson fired while Johanson stood a few feet from the tip of the gun, according to the officer’s assessment of the investigation. justice.

Goens did not drop his gun and Johanson fired four rounds, hitting Goens several times. According to the prosecutor’s letter, Johanson was unable to get out of the line of fire because of fences around the stairs leading to Goens’ front door.

Goens was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Investigators later found that his gun was not loaded when he was shot.

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Goens’ family told investigators that he had a work-related accident in July 2022 that left him unable to work while dealing with multiple health issues. After the shooting, detectives found a note in Goens’ mobile home that read, “I’m sorry, but I can’t go on living like this. Please forgive me.”

“It is important to note that Cpl. Johanson had no way of suspecting that Goens’ rifle was unloaded and could have caused death or serious bodily injury,” the district attorney’s op-ed said. “In fact, tragically, it seems clear that Mr. Goens knew this too – and relied on it – given the note left in the trailer.”

This was the seventh shooting involving Larimer County Sheriff’s Office deputies in 2022.

How CIRT works

The 8th Judicial District Critical Incident Response Team, or CIRT, was established in 2015 in accordance with a new state law that requires a multi-agency team to investigate “an incident in which a firearm was fired by a peace officer that resulted in injury or death.” to investigate.

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The team is automatically and instantly activated when a police officer is involved in a shooting. The agency that employs the officer(s) involved in a shooting is responsible for alerting the team.

CIRT may also investigate incidents involving officers resulting in serious injury or death, including car accidents, as well as incidents at the Larimer County Jail.

Fort Collins Police Services, Loveland Police Department, and the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office alternate as lead agencies for police shooting investigations. Each year, the responsibility rotates to a different agency.

Agencies involved in the investigation include: Windsor Police Department, Timnath Police Department, Johnstown Police Department, Estes Park Police Department, Colorado State University Police Department, Colorado State Patrol and the Larimer County District Attorney’s Office.

An agency cannot investigate itself.

After a CIRT investigation is completed, the report is presented to the district attorney, who decides whether to pursue criminal charges in connection with the incident.

This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: Larimer County deputy justified in deadly December shooting, says DA