BWC footage released after Colo. officer charged with murder in fatal OIS
The May incident led to an officer being fired and charged, as well as increased de-escalation training at the department
By Joanna Putman
LASALLE, Colo. — Newly released body camera footage shows an officer-involved shooting incident that unfolded in May, leading to an officer being charged with second-degree murder, 9 News reported.
The video shows Erik Hernandez, who was on his third day of field training at the time of the incident, and his training officer, Sam Johnson, approaching a double-parked car in a Family Dollar store parking lot.
Officer Johnson can be heard in the video explaining to Hernandez why the car was suspicious, citing the at-home paint job and the fact that the plate numbers did not match a registration.
The pair entered the store and looked for a suspect. The officers spoke with the store’s employees who said no one who worked there drove the car, according to the indictment obtained by 9 News.
An alarm can be heard inside the store, indicating that the suspect, now identified as Juston Reffel, had pushed an emergency exit door.
He then ran out through the front door, according to the indictment.
The officers drew their handguns and ran back to the parking lot, where the man had already gotten into the car. As the officers stood on either side of their car pointing their handguns at Reffel and commanding him to get out of the car, Reffel reversed the car several feet and began to drive away.
Hernandez then fired four shots into the driver’s side window, killing Reffel.
LaSalle Police Chief Dave Arnold said he believed his officers followed policy up until the shooting, which he was unable to say was justified or not. He said he didn’t think the shooting should have happened, but he couldn’t speak to whether Hernandez felt his life was in danger.
The department fired Hernandez and introduced new de-escalation and crisis intervention training after the incident. Johnson remains on duty, according to the report.