When police respond to property crimes, the incident rarely ends in eight rounds of bullets being fired at the suspect. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened recently when Fort Collins police responded to a burglary.
At 8 a.m. on January 21, police responded to a 911 call from a man claiming that a stranger had broken into his home and was stabbing his roommate. Officers claim that when they arrived at the scene, the suspect in question had a gun. Because of this, the officers began to fire at the suspect. In the process they hit not only him, but also cars and car windows. After eight rounds of gunfire, the suspect was left injured in the street.
He was later revealed to be holding a pellet gun. Moreover, the alleged stabbing victim was not even in the house at the time 911 was called, and was completely unharmed by the suspect. The officer who fired the gun was wearing a body camera, and is currently on administrative leave.
The suspect was shot over an active burglary call – but how serious is burglary? Should officers be trained to shoot at an alleged burglar?
How Serious Is Burglary In Our State?
Colorado has three different types of burglary charges depending on what was broken into and if any weapons were used. (Our state also differentiates between burglary, robbery, and theft.)
For example, you could be charged with burglary in Colorado for breaking into a “container,” rather than a house or building. (Containers include things such as vaults, safes, vending machines, and so on.)
Burglary charges start at class 5 felonies and only get more serious from there. Penalties could include anywhere from the possibility of a few years in prison to up to 24 years if the charge is a class 2 felony. You may also be ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and restitution to victims.
When a burglary happens in a home, the charges are elevated to first or second degree burglary. The line between first and second degree burglary charges is slightly fuzzy, but the most severe charges involve deadly weapons. If a suspect possesses a deadly weapon at the time of the crime, threatens to use, or uses a deadly weapon, the crime will most likely be charged as a first degree burglary.
Police officers are authorized to use deadly force if that is considered necessary to make an arrest and control the situation. Firing their weapons would not have been appropriate if, for example, the alleged burglar from Fort Collins was simply breaking into a safe and was not armed with a weapon.
Remember, though, the suspect in that case had a pellet gun, which can be considered a weapon. Beyond this, officials have not revealed the details of the case, including whether or not the suspect threatened to use the pellet gun or threatened to stab a member of the victim’s household.
Even if nothing was successfully taken from the home, the suspect may end up facing a first or second degree burglary charge to go along with their injuries. That being said, no official charges have been filed and there is still evidence being gathered.
Whether you are charged with burglary due to a fake 911 call or a surveillance camera allegedly catches you in the act, fighting burglary charges requires an aggressive defense. Get started building your defense today by getting in touch with a skilled Denver criminal defense lawyer today.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.