LITTLETON, Colo. -- A Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy got the surprise of his life last Friday night, when he stopped to help a motorist he thought was having car trouble.
The driver exited his SUV and swung an AR-15 style rifle toward the deputy’s face as the deputy walked behind the vehicle from the passenger side to the driver’s side.
Today, Littleton Police and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office released body cam video of the incident.
It shows Deputy Brad Proulx, a six-year veteran of the department, parking behind the suspect’s vehicle, which was partially blocking the outside, eastbound lane on County Line Road, just east of Santa Fe Drive.
Proulx first walked over to the passenger side of the vehicle, and then backed up and walked around to the driver’s side.
As he came around, the driver swung the rifle butt at Proulx’s face.
The startled deputy yelled, pulled out his sidearm and fired twice, striking the suspect once in the arm.
He then radioed, “Shots fired, shots fired,” then commanded the suspect to “get on the ground.”
“When you hear, ‘shots fired, shots fired,’ and you’re out there, it’s the worst feeling that you can have,” said Chief Deputy Steve Johnson.
When asked his reaction to the video, Johnson said, “It was gut-wrenching and very, very hard to watch.”
But Johnson added that he was impressed by the deputy’s actions.
“It’s nothing short of amazing, his reaction time, the defense of himself and the defense of the community from this individual and whatever this individual had in mind.”
Littleton Police Chief Doug Stephens also praised the deputy’s actions.
“He did a tremendous job, but as you can see from this video, a split-second reaction can be the difference between an officer and deputy’s life out there on the streets.”
The suspect has been identified as 25-year old Deyon Marcus Rivas-Maestas.
Rivas-Maestas is being held on $50,000 bond in the Douglas County Jail, for investigation of First Degree Assault on a Peace Officer.
“I don’t think any of us can speak to the mindset of this individual and what he was trying to accomplish,” Johnson said.
Police later determined that the suspect’s rifle was not loaded, but they can’t help but wonder what might have happened had the deputy not reacted as quickly as he did. What if the deputy had taken a hit to the face and gotten knocked out?
“I just think this is a tremendously good video to illustrate how, in the blink of an eye, an incident can change,” Stephens said. “Here you have a deputy who is responding to… someone who needs help on the side of the road. That’s the mindset of law enforcement… within seconds, as you can see in the video, the deputy is fighting for his life.”
Stephens said he’s glad the deputy was not injured and was able to go home to his family that night.
The police chief told Denver7 that he initially didn’t see the gun, when he first viewed the video.
“I knew it was there,” he said, “and I still didn’t see it on the video.”
When the video is slowed down, it is evident what the suspect was trying to do -- attack the deputy.
“The video shows, number one, “what the actions of the suspect were, and number two, what the deputy experienced at that time,” Stephens said. “I think his reaction was phenomenal. I think he did a tremendous job of assessing a threat and reacting instantaneously.”
The suspect was treated at Littleton Hospital shortly after the shooting. He was transferred to the jail Wednesday afternoon.
He has not yet been formally charged.