Family of unarmed man killed by deputy outside school sues sheriff’s office
A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed in federal court on behalf of the family of a man shot to death by a Pueblo County sheriff’s deputy outside a middle school a year ago, CBS Colorado’s Rick Sallinger reports.
Body camera video shows students walking past: The incident happened as school was letting out.
The mother of the man who was shot was also there.
The incident occurred in a parking lot of the Liberty Point International Middle School on Feb. 22, 2022.
Richard Ward, 32, was at the school to pick up his younger brother, Sallinger says. He got out of the car to stretch his legs, then was seen trying to get into a car he thought was his — but it wasn’t.
Deputies were called.
By that time, Ward was in the back seat of the car he came in, which belonged to his mother, Kristy Ward Stamp.
She and her boyfriend were also in the car, according to The Denver Post.
Attorneys for the family released body camera video of what came next.
One of two deputies who responded to the calls approached Ward and asked if he was under the influence of anything. He said no.
Asked by a deputy for ID and if he had any weapons, Ward answered, “I think I might have a pocket knife, I don’t know.”
He pulled a lighter out of his pocket and put it aside, then put a pill into his mouth. Attorneys for Ward’s family say the pill was for anxiety.
Deputies told investigators they believed he might have been reaching for a weapon when he was pulled out of the car.
A struggle took place, during which the word “gun” can be heard in the video. The deputy struggling with Ward on the ground then fired shots.
The video’s audio didn’t reveal the context of the word “gun.”
Ward was shot three times in the chest. He’s seen on the ground still moving as the deputies stand over him.
“I can’t find the words to explain to my son, who I was picking up at school that day — I can’t find the words — we can’t explain. It’s just shattered this whole family”, she told reporters at a news conference Tuesday.
Her son was on the ground for three minutes with no assistance until paramedics arrived, Sallinger said.
Deputies told investigators they were concerned for their safety, immediately following the incident.
At the news conference, lawyers for the family called it a case of murder.
Attorney Darold Killmer said, “Remember, Richard Ward was unarmed. Richard Ward was not trying to flee the scene. Richard Ward was not threatening in any way to either of the officers or anybody else.”
The Post quotes Killmer as saying, “”Richard Ward’s death is a profound injustice — an unarmed, cooperative citizen shot and killed in front of his mother by a Pueblo County sheriff’s deputy. This was nothing short of state-sanctioned murder of a citizen who should not have been even arrested, let alone killed in broad daylight.”
The sheriff’s deputies involved in the case were cleared of any criminal charges by the district attorney following an investigation that found the shooting justified.