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Colorado Springs officers justified in use of force in shooting death, review finds

Denver Post logo Denver Post 5/6/2022 Kieran Nicholson, The Denver Post

Colorado Springs police officers involved in the shooting death of a suspect who had fired at the officers were justified in their use of deadly force, according to investigators.

The El Paso County District Attorney’s Office has completed its review of a Dec. 10 shooting in which Xavier Miller was shot and killed, according to a news release.

Officers were responded to the 3600 block of Austin Bluffs Parkway when a security guard saw a man “passed out” in the driver’s seat of the van with a handgun and drug paraphernalia in his lap, according to the police shooting review.

Officers at the scene activated their overhead lights on marked patrol vehicles and used a loudspeaker to “obtain Mr. Miller’s cooperation and peaceful surrender.”

Miller, who had several outstanding arrest warrants, according to the release, refused to raise his hands and surrender the weapon. A chemical irritant was fired into the van in an attempt to force Miller out. He covered himself in the van, and fired several rounds from a 9mm handgun at officers. In return, Officer Scott Ferguson fired six rounds from a rifle, hitting Miller in the shoulder and flank.

Miller, still in the van, called 911 and made threats that he’d shoot officers who were on the scene, according to the release, before hanging up on the call.

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“Shortly after Mr. Miller terminated his call with dispatch, Mr. Miller raised his handgun and pointed it toward the locations of several CSPD officers,” the release said.

At that point Officers Raymond Shepard, Ryan Paine and Thorin Fash fired at Miller. Shepard fired five shots; Paine six shots; and Fash one shot. All three officers were armed with rifles. Miller was struck 11 times, he died at the scene.

The officers “had an objectively reasonable belief” that Miller posed an “imminent danger” to officers and to the general public in a nearby apartment complex when he fired shots, according to the review. “The use of deadly physical force…was justified” based on circumstances and Colorado law.

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