PUEBLO — The Tenth Judicial District Attorney's Office announced Wednesday that the deadly shooting of a Pueblo man by a sheriff's deputy in March 2020 was justified.
Investigators in the case said the incident began with a reported carjacking on the morning of Saturday, March 14.
According to reports, 20-year-old Jesse Cedillo led Pueblo County Sheriff's deputies on a chase after stealing a woman's car at gunpoint. The report also said Cedillo told the woman to get into the car with him, but she did not. "So, you had an unsuccessful kidnapping, but you had a successful carjacking," said Chostner.
The chase ended in a crash and subsequent foot pursuit. The DA's reports said Cedillo approached Deputy Jeffrey Alfonso with a gun and Alfonso fired on him. In total, fifteen shots were fired in five seconds. Five of those hit Cedillo on the left side of his body. "We've had any number of cases where what may appear to be an excessive number of shots are taken, but perfectly legal," said Chostner.
The DA, Jeff Chostner, found that the use of deadly force by Deputy Alfonso was justified, "based on the fears and threat of great bodily injury posed to him." The report went on to say that Cedillo posed a serious threat of imminent harm or death to the deputy because he was armed, running toward the deputy, and ignored repeated commands to show his hands.
The DA's reports said this conclusion is based on confirmed interviews of other officers and witnesses, body camera footage, video taken from a neighbor, evidence collected, and information developed from the execution of warrants. Chostner also said the videos were reviewed by outside agencies, like the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, which also confirmed Cedillo was holding a gun.
"I would also point out that our office has charged many police officers in the past. We've charged police officers with assault, with sexual assault, and with theft. This office does not hesitate to charge police officers when the facts and the law indicate that that is the right thing to do," said Chostner.
Body worn camera footage of the incident was released to News5 on Wednesday. "In essence, that body worn camera was still evidence in a criminal investigation, and as such, is not releasable until a decision is made," said Chostner.
He also said the amount of time taken to investigate this case is standard. "If there was a reason for it lasting a longer period of time, it's because I wanted outside agency assistance on taking a look at the video," said Chostner.
However, Cedillo's family argues he did not have a gun. On Wednesday, a group marched to the neighborhood where he was shot, and then to a home they said is Chostner's residence. "He had no gun, stop falsifying evidence... It was definitely placed. My brother, first off, he didn't believe in guns," said Nicole Fox, one of Cedillo's sisters.
Fox said this battle is far from over. "We're going to keep fighting. It's not just for Jesse, this is for the City of Pueblo," she said.
Another portion of the DA's report discussed SB 217. Chostner said regardless of if the bill had passed before Cedillo's death, he still thinks this case would have been ruled as justified.