Dig Into 6 Years Of Records That Detail Colorado’s Police Shootings

February 4, 2020
Westminster Police Sgt. Alex Johnstone speaks to a man who asked to be taken to detox, Jan. 30, 2020.Westminster Police Sgt. Alex Johnstone speaks to a man who asked to be taken to detox, Jan. 30, 2020. Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Westminster Police Sgt. Alex Johnstone speaks to a man who asked to be taken to detox, Jan. 30, 2020.

The August officer-involved shooting that left 19-year-old De'Von Bailey dead raised a few general questions around how police shootings are handled in Colorado.

As it turns out, answers to those questions are few and the documents you need are a challenge to locate.

A CPR News investigation has found that, on average, Colorado law enforcement authorities shot someone once a week for the past six years.

The 189 people who were killed by law enforcement officers between the start of 2014 and the end of 2019 gave Colorado the nation’s 5th highest rate for fatal law enforcement shootings. The number of annual fatal shootings by law enforcement in the state almost doubled between 2014 and 2018.

CPR News used investigative reports, letters issued by district attorneys, autopsy reports, interviews and contemporary news accounts to identify and piece together details of 309 shootings by police, sheriff’s deputies, Colorado State Patrol troopers, ICE and other federal agents and officers from the Colorado Department of Corrections.

The finding from this self-assembled database are stark — and sometimes a surprise, even to law enforcement. Some police departments – Pueblo, Westminster in particular – have higher rates of shootings compared to other cities and departments.

Read The First Installment Of CPR's Shots Fired Investigation

This searchable database allows you to find officer-involved shootings by agency or location, and by whether the suspect was killed. As our investigation unfolds, we’ll present the database with a new way of looking at the data we found.

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CPR’s Ben Markus, Allison Sherry and Chuck Murphy contributed to this report.