NewsCovering Colorado


Hearing scheduled for UCCS shooting suspect after KOAA obtains video of jail assault

Posted at 1:00 PM, Apr 26, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-26 19:13:28-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — A previously unscheduled hearing in the criminal case for Nicholas Jordan is set for 3 p.m. on Friday.

Jordan is accused of shooting and killing Samuel Knopp, 24, and Celie Montgomery, 26, at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS) campus on Feb. 16.

Jordan is facing first-degree murder charges, but was found incompetent to stand trial at his most recent hearing on April 12. Jordan also faces additional charges from an alleged assault on a sheriff’s deputy while in custody.

The prosecution has requested a second evaluation, with results expected on a May 31 court date. Jordan’s criminal trial won’t proceed until he’s found competent.

Friday’s hearing is based on a new motion from the Office of the Public Defender, which represents Jordan, filed in court on April 16.

The defense is requesting the judge to limit pretrial publicity due to the jail video KOAA obtained through a legal records request of the alleged assault.

The video provides visual representation of an arrest affidavit that has already been extensively reported on in the community. The details of the report are corroborated by the video.

After obtaining the jail video, the KOAA newsroom has been under pressure from multiple agencies within the justice system not to air it.

The following is an account of how and why the video was obtained and the journalism process behind this reporting.


My phone rang at 10:30 a.m. on April 16. It was the Colorado Public Defender’s Office.

I was about to go live for a report on the Return to Nature Funeral Home demolition in Penrose. So I asked if they could call back in 20 minutes.

I knew why they reached out. I had requested a comment the day before regarding the jail video I had obtained of their client, Nicholas Jordan. He’s the man accused of shooting and killing his roommate and a young woman in their UCCS campus apartment earlier this year.

In Colorado, public defenders have a blanket policynot to comment to the media on criminal cases. Regardless, as a journalist, I wanted to perform my due diligence by reaching out.

30 minutes later, the office called me back. They asked me how I obtained the video. I explained it was through a public records request with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.

I then asked again if they had a comment about the video, they declined and the call ended. The conversation lasted 58 seconds.

Immediately, I texted my news director. I told him about the call and expressed concern there might be an attempt to block us from airing the video.

That afternoon, the defense filed a motion to limit pretrial publicity. In the filing, the defense notes their previous motion to limit publicity was denied, but pointed to “recent developments” as the reason they were reasserting the claim.

“The main development that the defense is referring to is that the defense received a media inquiry from KOAA 5. In this media inquiry, the reporter stated that it received ‘jailhouse video’ of the alleged assault on a deputy…and that it would be releasing it this week (April 16, 2024),” the motion stated.

The motion continued it had not received the jail video itself and that “raises serious concerns” for the defense. They asked why they had not received the video, and how I obtained the information, and then falsely suggested someone in the government leaked the video to our newsroom.

The filing also suggested the government is sitting on “potentially exculpatory information” for Nicholas Jordan or is releasing information for a case still under investigation.

In either scenario, the motion argued, it should warrant a sanction and the judge should grant the motion to limit pretrial publicity.

That day and in the days after, my news management also received calls from the district attorney’s office and the sheriff’s office pressuring our newsroom not to air the video.


As one of the first reporters on the scene when the UCCS shooting occurred, I’ve been following the case in the months since. I’ve submitted multiple records requests with the university and law enforcement as part of my ongoing investigation into the shooting.

Most of these records requests have been denied, citing privacy laws or the often utilized catch-all reason that it’s an ongoing criminal investigation.

On March 26, details broke that Nicholas Jordan was due back in court for a separate incident and facing new charges. I reported the developments on March 27.

According to an arrest affidavit, Jordan had assaulted an El Paso County Sheriff’s Office (EPCSO) Deputy on March 20, while in custody. The arrest report mentioned a jail video that was reviewed of the incident.

The next day, I found a form through the EPCSO website where I could specifically request jail video via a public records request. I filled out the form and submitted it on March 28.

Five days later, the EPCSO records department replied to my records request stating they had found four videos that pertain to my request. There was a charge of $32.

“Unfortunately, the altercation happened within a dormitory cell and there is no direct camera within each cell and our Deputy’s at the jail are not equipped with Body Cameras as of yet,” said the records custodian in the email.

I paid the fee and was told their department is behind schedule in processing records requests.

13 days later, on April 15, the EPCSO records department emailed links of the jail video for download. I wasn’t sure if or when we would air the video on our broadcast, but I reached out to the public defender’s office that same day for comment.


The same evening the motion from the public defense was filed on April 16, and my news management began receiving calls, urging us not to air the jail video.

The various agencies said we should not have been granted the records request and the videos should not have been released to us.

For the public defenders, they worried the videos would unfairly portray their client before his right to a fair trial. For the district attorney’s office, there was concern the video would bring about sanctions (as stated in the motion for Friday’s hearing) and would hamper their prosecution of Jordan.

After days of newsroom deliberation and conversations with multiple attorneys, including First Amendment attorney Steven Zansberg, it was decided we would move forward with the reporting.

The video was legally obtained and the public has a right to see it, our newsroom determined.


Steven Zansberg is a Colorado attorney who focuses on First Amendment rights. His first reaction was to ask if the judge had tried to block the video from airing.

Such an act would be prior restraint, he said, which is a form of censorship when the government prevents publication of materials. That was not the case in this instance.

But Zansberg broke down the other claims and arguments made by the justice system agencies.

“We have found time and time again throughout our nation that our justice system is able to find 12 impartial jurors who are able to set aside whatever information they may know about a crime and decide the defendant's guilt or innocence based only upon the evidence they receive,” said Zansberg.

He drew a comparison to the ongoing criminal trial of former President Donald Trump in New York City. If 12 jurors could be seated for that case, he said, it is easily possible for other criminal cases.

“I find it extremely hard to believe that the publication of this skirmish in the county jail, released to the public, will have any impact in the eventual trial on the homicide charges against this defendant,” he added.


Zansberg also hit back at the notion that this disclosure of jail video to KOAA violated rules of professional conduct, which are a set of rules for attorneys adopted by the Colorado Supreme Court.

Per these rules, there are restrictions on what attorneys involved in trying cases can say to the media. These are called extrajudicial statements.

“The fact that you've lawfully obtained truthful information from the government does not preclude you in any way shape, or form from airing that or broadcasting publishing that information,” he said.

“But the issue in this motion on Friday is whether or not the judge should order the prosecution or both parties to cease and desist from making any public statements about this prosecution going forward.”

Zansberg has argued in the past that portions of the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct (notably rules 3.6 and 3.8) have no application to the release of public records.

“It’s disappointing that some district attorneys apparently are under the mistaken belief that Colorado’s Rules of Professional Conduct have anything to say about releasing police body camera footage,” wrote Zansberg previously for the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition.

“Those rules proscribe only the making of certain ‘extrajudicial statements’ — i.e., words, uttered by the speaker, orally or in writing. Case law makes clear those rules have nothing to say about the disclosure of public records under state freedom of information laws.”

Zansberg said the release of jail video is the same as police body camera video and that neither should be considered a violation of Colorado’s Rules of Professional Conduct.

As such, Zansberg said he wouldn’t rule it out, but he’d be surprised if the court sanctioned the district attorney’s office as requested by the defense.

Email Senior Reporter Brett Forrest at Follow @brettforrestTVon X and Brett Forrest News on Facebook.


News Tips
What should KOAA5 cover? Is there a story, topic, or issue we should revisit? Have a story you believe should make the light of day? Let our newsroom know with the contact form below.

Watch KOAA News5 on your time, anytime with our free streaming app available for your Roku, FireTV, AppleTV and Android TV. Just search KOAA News5, download and start watching.