On Tuesday, the man’s family sued the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office in federal court for the fatal shooting of their loved one by an officer last year while he waited in line to pick up his middle school-aged children.
On February 22, 2022, 32-year-old Richard Ward was shot three times in the chest by deputies. In October, the Tenth Judicial District Attorney’s Office concluded that the officer who fired was appropriate in his actions and cleared both cops engaged in the incident.
While speaking at a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Kristy Ward Stamp, Ward’s mother, stated, “It’s just shattered this whole family.” The case was filed against Pueblo County in civil court.
Here is a tweet by a coman man Lefty Biker:
How about cops stop killing people for shit that cops escalate……..
Body camera video shows fatal police shooting during middle school pickup https://t.co/Uwc2l05jXv via @9NEWS
— Lefty Biker (@LeftyBiker) February 22, 2023
“It’s been really, really horrible. I don’t even know who I am anymore, but I’m working on it,” she said. “That’s about it.”
Even though he lives out of state, Ward’s younger brother Eddy Stamp traveled to the news conference to show his support for his mom.
“It’s infuriating,” he said. “It’s so hard to watch the footage and see what happened with your own eyes.”
Both the contents of the video and the sheriff’s office’s handling of the issue following the shooting have angered the victim’s relatives.
On the day in question, the now-Sheriff of Pueblo County, Dave Lucero, was a chief deputy and briefed media there. Ward “jumped out of the truck,” Lucero told reporters at the scene. Ward is rescued from his automobile by a sheriff in the footage.
“To hear my younger brother say that other people’s parents are reading that story and that other kids in his class are referring to my brother as this intruder and attacker, and to have him not know how to even deal with that,” Eddy Stamp said.
Ward, his mom, and his mom’s boyfriend waited for Ward’s younger brother to come out of school. The school was located in Pueblo West. Ward allegedly got out of the car to smoke a cigarette and stretch his legs, as stated by the family’s attorney Darold Killmer. Killmer said upon his return that he had mistakenly gotten into his mother’s SUV and driven off in another one. According to Killmer, he promptly exited the vehicle and retraced his steps to his mother’s vehicle.
“At worst, he had startled a lady by opening her car door, though it was accidental, and nothing further happened when he realized his mistake,” Killmer said. “The officers had no basis to believe Richard had committed any crime, and absolutely no basis to believe that Richard was a danger to them or anyone else.”
According to a decision letter from the district attorney, a 911 caller reported a suspicious person trying to open doors. The caller claimed Ward was “on something.”
Deputy Charles McWhorter arrived and had a brief talk with Ward in the SUV. Ward explains to the deputy that he is afraid of police because he dislikes them on body camera footage. He explains to the policeman that he’s anxious and has had unpleasant experiences with officers who yelled at him to stop resisting while he did nothing wrong.
When Ward searches for his pockets, McWhorter inquires about identification and then whether or not Ward is armed. Ward hints to McWhorter that he might be carrying a pocketknife.
Cassandra Gonzalez, a second deputy who arrived after McWhorter, used her body camera to record Ward putting something in his mouth. According to Killmer, Ward suffered from an anxiety issue and takes medication to treat it. The officer needed to know what Ward had eaten or drunk. To which Ward replied, “It’s only a pill.”
McWhorter dragged Ward from the SUV and onto the ground, where the two of them fought for a few seconds. McWhorter drew his service weapon and fired three shots in Ward’s direction.
Mother and her boyfriend can be heard yelling from the SUV after the incident, demanding answers from the sheriff’s deputies.
As Ward’s body was removed from the vehicle, the cops locked the door and waited nearly three minutes for help to come.
Watch The Full Body Camera Footage
A another tweet from Iron Front Colorado, in which he post real video:
TW: Murdering cop Charles McWhorter of the Pueblo Co Sheriff’s Dept executed Richard Ward in front of his mom while they were waiting for his little brother at his middle school. The DA Jeff Chostner let these murderers off and they’re still on the streets now. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/5PgJgD4PHK
— Iron Front Colorado (@FrontColorado) February 22, 2023
“Rather than providing emergency medical care to Richard, such as applying pressure to the wound area or other potentially life-saving measures, both McWhorter and Gonzalez did absolutely nothing,” the attorney Killmer said. “Rather, they satisfied themselves to wait until an ambulance later arrived, by which time Richard had died.”
According to a letter of determination issued by the district attorney’s critical incident team in October, McWhorter and Gonzalez had legal grounds to use force under Colorado’s defence of self and defence of others statutes.
“They had reasonable ground to believe, and did believe, that they and their fellow officers were in imminent danger of being killed or receiving great bodily injury,” district attorney Jeff Chostner wrote.
The district attorney wrote in the same letter that McWhorter and Gonzalez did not help Ward because they worried for their safety with Ward’s mother and boyfriend still in the car.
“[McWhorter] said he would have felt vulnerable if he was down on the ground assisting Richard as the door would only offer concealment not cover,” he wrote.
Ward’s family’s lawsuit alleges claims under the U.S. Constitution and under the Colorado Constitution pursuant to Colorado’s new police reform law.
“We consider this an extraordinarily compelling case of unjustified police brutality, leading to the death of a young man with devastating consequences for his mother and family,” Killmer said. “The family has asked us to secure justice for Richard, and we intend to do so.”
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