Larimer County sheriff’s deputy will not be charged for using stun gun on fleeing man on I-25

Brent Thompson
Courtesy of the Thompson family
Brent Thompson in undated family photo, with father David and sister Adrianne.

A Larimer County sheriff’s deputy who pursued a Loveland man who ran onto Interstate 25 will not be criminally charged for using a stun gun and shocking the man on the highway, causing him to fall into a northbound lane where he was struck and killed by a car.

Brent Thompson, 28, was killed after being hit by a SUV traveling at about 70 miles per hour in February. Thompson ran from the sheriff’s deputy onto the highway after the deputy confronted him about giving him a fake name at a traffic stop near the Budweiser plant outside of Fort Collins. 

In deciding not to charge Deputy Lorenzo Lujan, Larimer County District Attorney Gordon McLaughlin wrote that “while the result of this decision was tragic, as a legal matter, once he decided that he could minimize injury by stopping Mr. Thompson from crossing the highway, the use of the Taser was probably the only use of force he had available,” he said. “The deputy was engaged in a lawful arrest … the law clearly doesn’t require police inaction in these circumstances.”

Thompson, a landscaper and handyman, was working for his mother at the time of his death and living with her in Loveland. 

On Feb. 18, the night of the incident, he had quarreled with her after she saw that he was driving his girlfriend’s car around and it had expired tags, his mother Karen Kay Thompson, said in an interview on Friday from her lawyer’s office in Denver. 

“I’m the mom, right? Please don’t drive that car. Please stay home,” she said. “He was mad at me because I was being a mom and calling him out and told him don’t drive a car with an expired license. I just thought that wasn’t a good idea.”

Allison Sherry/CPR News
Brent Thompson's family, from left, brother Blake Stacey, mother Karen Kay Thompson, sister Adrianne Thompson and David Thompson, his father

Thompson left her house angry and took her cat, Simon. Authorities say he went to a hotel near Interstate 25 and then left that hotel at around 9:10 p.m. Deputy Lujan was nearby in a patrol car and saw that the plates were expired. Lujan followed Thompson, who was driving the borrowed Ford Fusion, and pulled him over once he got onto Interstate 25 and was traveling too slowly, according to the DA’s investigation.

Thompson pulled his car over on an off ramp off of Interstate 25 and stepped out of the vehicle. He gave a fake name to Lujan. In the investigation documents, his girlfriend said he was afraid of officers because of an ongoing struggle with the drug fentanyl and the egregious withdrawal symptoms he might endure in jail.

When Lujan discovered that Thompson gave him a false name, he told Thompson that he was going to place him under arrest. 

That’s when Thompson bolted. He eventually ran down a steep embankment onto Interstate 25. He attempted to jump a guardrail, but got his foot stuck and stumbled onto the shoulder of a northbound lane. 

Lujan radioed that he was in a foot pursuit and he yelled out a warning that he was about to shock Thompson. When Lujan caught up to him, Thompson was again standing on the shoulder and was about to start running again. Lujan deployed the Taser and Thompson fell into the lane. A car was coming. Another deputy tried to use a flashlight to get the car to slow down, but it was so dark, the driver of the vehicle said he didn’t see anything. He struck Thompson, who was on the ground.

Thompson’s family on Friday said they knew he struggled with fentanyl and that they were trying to get him help. His mother had been there with him during the withdrawals, she said, and called it “horrific.”

“It’s super sad. He was trying to do better and get better, he really was and I just feel like he would have succeeded, he just needed a little more time. He was young, you know?” she said.

The family is angry that Lujan wasn’t held criminally responsible and that he didn’t lose his job for chasing their son onto the highway and deploying a Taser when there was a car coming. The driver of that car also didn’t face any criminal charges and was not named in the investigation documents.

“There is a loss of life here and the district attorney doesn’t care,” David Thompson, his father, said. “It feels like we haven’t been heard. It’s frustrating. A man could make a judgment call, which is is fully responsible, and pull a trigger on a federal highway.”

The family plans on filing a lawsuit against Larimer County, said their attorney Qusair Mohamedbhai.

Correction, July 26, 2023: An earlier version of this story did not accurately describe the legal jeopardy Thompson faced when he ran from deputies. At the time he ran, Thompson was under investigation for driving under revocation, driving with an expired tag, possible impaired driving and providing a false name to the original responding deputy.