It has been over four months since Park County Sheriff’s Office Corporal Nate Carrigan was shot and killed by home squatter Martin Wirth, during an eviction at 36 Iris Drive in Bailey and yet the press and the public still have not been given access to the official reports of the incident.
The Flume has received numerous promises from the Colorado Bureau of Investigations and the 11th Judicial District Attorney Tom LeDoux for access to the documents. And each promise has been met with a delay.
Various pieces of the official reports have been acquired by The Flume, but all of those pieces were obtained in the way newspapers sometimes have to work, through anonymous sources, other media outlets and unofficial channels.
Except for an autopsy request, not a single other document has been fowarded to The Flume, even though the newspaper has asked the DA five times for the complete report.
The autopsy report went public because The Denver Post had to make a legal open records request.
The CBI forensics report was obtained by CBS4 by using other sources besides the DA’s office, who, up to this writing, had refused any requests for documents.
The forensics report and the autotopsy are far from the only reports on this incident.
Where is the audio tracking from the PSCO communications department? Where are the witness interviews with the deputies at the scene? Where are the PSCO emails generated by this incident? Where is the DA’s office offical memorandum covering this shootout?
What happened the morning of Feb. 24, 2016? According to the un-redacted computer-aided dispatch (CAD), PCSO should have been aware that Wirth might be dangerous.
In one of the last entries in the CAD report, posted almost a day after the incident, read in full, “There was an active alert on this property. This address is going to be foreclosed on. Martin Worth (sic) who lives here, is threatening anyone who tries to take his property’ (02/25/2016 07:34:55 (ksusic).”
Was PSCO aware of the alert placed on the property before they went out there?
One of Wirth’s neighbors said he contacted the sheriff’s office, twice, and warned them of Wirth’s intentions.
In an interview with the neighbor on the day of the shooting, Rich Gabrish, who lives two doors from Wirth’s property, told The Flume that Wirth had made numerous threats that he would shoot police officers if they tried to apprehend him or remove him from the property.
“I told him that’s a battle he’s not going to win,” Gabrish said. “He didn’t care. He believed life was treating him rotten; everyone was out to get him. He wanted to die. I think he wanted suicide by cops, too.”
Gabrish said he called the Park County Sheriff’s Office about six weeks before the shooting to warn the department about the threats Wirth had been making. Gabrish said the officer he spoke with said they would watch Wirth and be careful.
During a press conference on Feb. 25, Sheriff Fred Wegener claimed that the department was unaware that there would be any danger accessing Wirth’s property.
“Nothing to the extent that I would’ve ever thought that he would shoot at somebody,” Wegener said.
Wegener’s statement seems to indicate that the PCSO was treating this as a normal eviction.
An entry in the CAD report from that morning states, “Per cmd3 (a deputy designated as command 3) they will be on ops5 (a radio channel) med (medical) is staged he will have 5 (five deputies) (2/24/2016 9:03:18).”
Twenty eight minutes later, as the deputies got into place to approach Wirth’s house, another entry about medical services was recorded in the CAD report.
“Is medical ready to go? (9:31:44),” the report said.
A third entry in the CAD report references medical again, “Nate let medical by (9:34:59).”
Most of the entries in the CAD report read like a major law enforcement action and not just a normal eviction.
“Eyes on the back door at the 4 corner (9:43:38),” “Male on deck (9:45:24),” “He saw us from the upper deck talked to us and went back in (9:47:09),” said the report.
At that point, Wegener (cmd1 on the CAD report) staged some of his deputies at the locked door on the east side of the house. Wegener gave the go ahead to bust down the door.
“Cmd1 get his attention at the door (9:48:10),” Wegener said.
“Cmd3 trying, he’s not coming (9:48:17),” CMD3 said.
“Cmd3 going through the door (9:48:42),” CMD3 said.
The door was breached and at 9:49:03, the CAD report has the entry “shots fired.”
Seconds later a call went out over the radios, “Officer down (9:49:06).”
Carrigan, who was with Park County for 13 years, was shot and died at the scene.
Master Patrol Deputy Kolby Martin, who has 11 years with Park County, was shot multiple times in the lower extremities, and Captain Mark Hancock, who has 21 years with Park County, was grazed in the ear.
Not every radio transmission is entered in the CAD by the communications dispatchers in Fairplay. CAD entries consist mainly of officer to communications and communications to officer transmissions. But all transmissions are recorded as an audio source.
The Flume feels it is about time that all information is released to the public. The agencies involved have had over four months to get their “ducks in a row.”
This extended delay of information has helped create rumors and innuendoes in the community.
Why was medical staged for an eviction? Why would deputies storm into a house when they had no idea what to expect inside of that house? Was this really a normal eviction?
If there was an active alert on this property, medical staged and a team of detectives and deputies on the scene, does that indicate that PCSO expected trouble from the start?
The public deserves to know exactly what happened on Feb. 24 and why PCSO lost one deputy and two other deputies sustained injuries.
The Flume will continue to try to collect the official documents related to this issue.
After all, this was simply an eviction. Right?