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Affidavit: Parolee claims he thought parole officers were robbers

Posted at 6:06 PM, Oct 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-09 20:06:56-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — The arrest affidavit for the parolee accused of running over and killing State Parole Officer Christine Guerin Sandoval details how parole officers had Justin Kula at gunpoint outside a convenience store in Colorado Springs when he backed out of a parking lot, striking two of the officers.

The parole officers had tracked down Kula to the store on North Spruce St on September 28 and tried to block him in to make an arrest on active warrants, according to the document,

Three officers were in two cars when they attempted to maneuver into position behind a Lexus SUV driven by Kula. The affidavit references surveillance video showing a Ford Fusion almost hit by a pickup truck backing out, then a Chevy Impala that was hit by the same truck. Both of the cars were driven by parole officers.

After the collision, Officers Christine Guerin Sandoval and Sunni Campbell got out of their vehicles to immediately open the driver's side door to order Kula to put his hands up. A third parole officer was positioned on the passenger side of the vehicle with the door open.

The review of bodyworn camera video shows Kula initially had his hands up, then despite orders to stop, put the vehicle in reverse and knocked over the parole officers with the open car doors. Officer Campbell was able to recover with the help of a third officer, then immediately worked to render aid to Sandoval who was run over by the vehicle. Kula reportedly fled the area in the Lexus, based on surveillance video, body camera video, and witness statements.

The report notes that neither parole vehicle had blue and red lights on during this incident. There is also commentary that draws into question whether the officers were wearing equipment that clearly marked them as law enforcement and whether they identified themselves as law enforcement. Officer Campbell told the detective she was wearing an expired ballistic vest without markings from her trunk, instead of her current vest with parole officer markings. The detective's review of the video notes no evidence that any of the officers identified themselves verbally as parole officers.

Under questioning Kula told detectives he was high on methamphetamine and heroin when he was approached by the parole officers. Kula said he was concerned for his safety as he thought he was being robbed. He admitted to knowing he was in violation of parole for not checking in with his officer in the three weeks since he was released from the Colorado Department of Corrections. Kula told the detectives he was worried his ex-wife had set him up to be robbed.

The detective told Kula one of the officers he had struck had died. Kula "became seemingly emotional and stated he did not believe that anyone had died", according to the detective,

Kula is currently being held in the El Paso County Jail on charges of manslaughter, accidents involving death or personal injuries, and assault in the third degree.

RELATED: Court records show the suspect in hit-and-run of parole officer has an extensive criminal history

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