New details released about deadly shooting of Douglas County deputy as officers are cleared

Posted at 3:47 PM, Jul 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-16 17:54:47-04

DENVER – New details were revealed Monday regarding the December deadly shooting of Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Zackari Parrish as the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office’s review of the incident was publicly released.

The review, which was written by Senior Chief Deputy District Attorney Jason Siers, found that the numerous officers and deputies from various Douglas County law enforcement agencies were justified in using deadly force against Matthew Riehl, who was killed in the police shootout that happened in the early morning hours of New Year’s Eve 2017.

Parrish was killed in the shooting and several other deputies were injured.

The officer-involved shooting review provides some new details about what happened that night at the Copper Canyon Apartments in Highlands Ranch.

Riehl had called police claiming his roommate needed to be evaluated, after which deputies realized Riehl was in the midst of a mental health crisis. Local law enforcement agencies in Colorado and Wyoming had a history of dealings with Riehl, and deputies were aware he had mental health issues.

But deputies left after the first call. The review says that Riehl’s behavior “did not meet the requirements to be placed on a mental health hold under Colorado law.”

But when Riehl called 911 about 1 ½ hours later, Parrish and other deputies responded again, and after some time, realized they needed to place Riehl on a mental health hold, the review says.

As Parrish and other deputies entered the apartment with Riehl’s roommate’s keys and tried to kick down his bedroom door, Riehl fired at the deputies. Parrish immediately fell and yelled he was shot; another deputy was shot in the wrist and jumped out of a window to escape and two others were shot as they tried to rescue Parrish. The two were forced to retreat without recovering Parrish at the time, the review says.

SWAT and other law enforcement officers responded to the scene after a sergeant radioed that deputies had been shot.

More deputies and officers engaged Riehl from different positions. But it wasn’t until after 7 a.m., according to the review, that SWAT team members were able to get into the apartment to rescue Parrish—more than an hour after he was initially shot. He was taken to Littleton Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

More officers got into Riehl’s apartment and kicked open his bedroom door and shot Riehl after seeing him behind a door. The review says Riehl reached for another weapon and was shot again. They eventually handcuffed him and moved him outside to be treated, but he died at the scene, the review says.

It says that inside the home, investigators found 15 firearms, 185 spent shell casings, 1067 live bullet and 22 magazines inside Riehl’s bedroom.

The review also contains lengthy details about Riehl’s earlier life and the actions of the deputies and officers at the scene that night. And citing the danger the officers felt they were in on the night of the shooting, their actions were deemed justified.

“Mr. Riehl posed a continuing deadly threat to law enforcement and the community. All officers acted in self-defense or defense of others,” Siers wrote. “They were legally justified in shooting and killing Mr. Riehl. The officers did not violate a criminal statute. No criminal charges will be filed against any officer involved [in] the death of Mr. Riehl.”