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Cortez Police Department honors the life and legacy of Sgt. Michael Moran

Sgt. Michael Moran
Posted at 6:10 AM, Dec 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-06 17:16:51-05

CORTEZ, Colo — A funeral service was held Wednesday in a small southwestern Colorado community to honor the life and legacy of Cortez Police Department Sgt. Michael Moran.

Moran was shot and killed during a traffic stop last week. The 11-year veteran of the force left behind two daughters. Flags across Colorado are at half-staff to honor the officer's service and the police department.

"Sgt. Michael Moran served his country as a Marine for nine years, including two tours in Iraq, prior to joining the Cortez Police Department in 2012. As a new officer, Sgt. Moran rose quickly through the ranks, becoming a K-9 handler in 2016. He was most proud of his K-9 partner Otto who served by his side until retiring in 2020. Sgt. Michael Moran will be remembered by his fellow officers for his dedication and sense of humor. He leaves behind two daughters, many friends, and family," a statement from the Cortez Police Department reads.

Wednesday's service at the Cortez Recreation Center was a private event. However, the public was invited to show their support by lining the streets of Cortez.

Killed in the line of duty

On the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 29, the police department received a reckless driving complaint which Sgt. Moran responded to and initiated a traffic stop.

Montezuma County Sheriff Steve Nowlin said the suspect vehicle pulled over near the Handy Mart on S. Broadway in southwest Cortez. One of the suspects then opened fire at Sgt. Moran.

Moran was transported to Southwest Memorial Hospital, where he died, Cortez Police Chief Chief Vernon Knuckles said.

Sheriff Nowlin said there were "plenty" of witnesses in the area who saw the shooting.

He said the suspects fled and drove between 3/4 and 1 mile away before they encountered more officers, plus deputies from the Montezuma County Sheriff's Office, around the 7500 block of Highway 491.

There, a suspect and officers fired at each other, police said. One of the suspects died at the scene. According to law enforcement, a second person was in the vehicle but is not being considered a suspect at this time.

Sheriff Nowlin confirmed the suspect who died was the same one who fired at Moran.

The suspect has not yet been identified. Chief Knuckles said he can't talk about charges until the investigation is complete.

Anybody with information about this incident is asked to contact the Cortez Police Department and the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch at 970-565-8441.

No other details were immediately available.

Sgt. Michael Moran and K9 Otto

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis released a statement after learning about the line-of-duty death:

“I am saddened to hear of the tragic passing of the Cortez Police Officer in the line of duty. My thoughts and prayers are with their family, as well as the Cortez Police Department and the community during this time. This officer dedicated their career to serving and protecting their community."