Wildlife officer ‘wasn’t going to die without a fight’
The Associated Press
DENVER — Husband-and-wife meth users disarmed a Colorado wildlife officer and a sheriff’s deputy then forced them to their knees along a desolate mountain highway before the husband was killed in a struggle, police reports released Thursday show.
The man had handcuffed the deputy and held both officers at gunpoint with their own weapons before the wildlife officer overpowered him, took back his gun and shot the man to death Monday near the small town of Dinosaur in northwestern Colorado, about 10 miles from the Utah border.
Neither officer was injured during the encounter that began after they found the couple’s abandoned Ford Explorer on the side of the road.
Georgie Hand, 43, faces charges including attempted first-degree murder, kidnapping, aggravated robbery and disarming a peace officer. Her husband, James Damon, 46, died at the scene.
The police reports provide new details about the harrowing struggle.
After finding the SUV, wildlife officer Nathan Martinez followed a set of footsteps to the couple, who were sitting on a hillside.
Damon aimed a handgun at Martinez and ordered him to keep his hands up as Hand pulled the officer’s weapon from his holster, the reports state.
They forced Martinez to sit down and toss his radio onto the ground. Damon asked if he had a wife and kids, finally saying, “’How do we get out of this, how does everybody walk away alive?’” Hand told investigators, according to the reports.
Pointing Martinez’s own gun at him, the couple then led him down the hill toward Moffat County Deputy Bhrent Shock. Hand told investigators her husband pointed his gun at Shock’s face and ordered him to the ground, where Damon stripped him of his gun, radio and stun gun before handcuffing his right hand to his duty belt.
Damon then pressed the gun into the back of the deputy’s head.
Martinez threw the keys to his vehicle toward Damon and told the pair they could take it and go, according to the reports. Hand walked away and Martinez told investigators that Damon ordered the officers to their knees near the Ford.
Martinez could see the deputy’s handgun in one of Damon’s hands and his own weapon in the other.
“At this point, Officer Martinez knew they were going to die, but he wasn’t going to die without a fight,” the police report says. He “made the decision to disarm Damon and get his own handgun back.”
Some details of the struggle were hazy. Martinez told investigators he didn’t remember at what point the gun fired, but that it malfunctioned before he was finally able to fire a shot into the back of Damon’s head.
The officers then arrested Hand, who was still holding a handgun.
A judge on Wednesday ordered Hand to remain in jail without bond. Court records do not list an attorney who could comment on the allegations against her.
Hand told investigators she and Damon had been injecting meth at least once a day throughout the week, according to the reports.
The pair were wanted in Wasatch County, Utah, on charges of burglary, theft and forgery, according to court records. They were accused of using a stolen credit card and checks to make thousands of dollars of purchases at a Wal-Mart and elsewhere in December.
Authorities in Chaffee County, Colorado, were seeking them on suspicion of stealing credit cards, ski equipment, electronics and other items from cars and pawning them. Chaffee County authorities issued warrants for their arrests in February.
Shock and Martinez have been placed on administrative leave, a standard practice after an officer-involved shooting. The district attorney’s critical incident response team was investigating.
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