CSPD releases body cam video from fatal OIS shooting in December

Posted at 6:52 PM, May 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-01 20:52:13-04

What started as an attempted arrest of a man wanted on a misdemeanor theft charge ended with two CSPD officers firing 13 rounds at him.

A report released by the 4th Judicial District says Officers were in the process of arresting Christopher Willard, behind a strip mall off of South Nevada Avenue and Brookside Street this past December.

While not shown in the released body cam footage, the report says Willard resisted arrest and tried to reach for something in his waistband.

Authorities would later find a weapon on him, that was a realistic looking semi-automatic styled BB gun.

They say Willard also had methamphetamine in his system.

During the struggle, Officer Tracy Toth fell to the ground. 

The report says Willard then spun around, and pointed a gun at Officer Christopher Fernandez–who yelled at him to "get back" and then immediately open fired, hitting Willard.

The body cam video is from Officer Toth’s vest.

She was still on the ground, when Officer Fernandes says he saw Willard lift his head and raise the gun–though it cannot be seen from officer’s Toth’s vest.

Both officers fired at Willard, totaling 13 rounds.

Willard was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

"There were a lot of challenges in this video," said Jackie Kirby with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, who handled the investigation.

"It was at night, where the body worn camera is worn on the the officer’s uniform.  If an arm or something crosses in front of that–obviously, you’re not going to see anything, except something dark or something passing in front of the camera," she explained.

Another thing she says you don’t see on the camera is the emotion or threat the officers felt in the moments before they fired their weapons.

It’s a scenario they’ve trained for, but the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office says it can be a difficult one to recover from mentally.

"The knowledge of taking a life and the shooting that you are involved in that takes a life are two very, very different things," said Kirby.

"So they are put on that paid administrative leave and they’re interviewed as any witness would be in any investigation.  They’re also given that time off to make sure they’re physically okay and mentally okay," she added.

Kirby said they have additional resources available for deputies, who return to work after an officer involved shooting.

Both officers with the Colorado Springs Police Department have since returned to work.

CSPD declined to comment on the investigation.