On July 1, 2017, Colorado man, Jeremy Holmes committed
what investigators described as “suicide by cop.” According to police, they
encountered Holmes and found that he was armed with a knife. Holmes was
instructed to drop the knife over 30 times over a period of two minutes, and in
the audio from over the officer’s body cameras- Holmes is heard demanding that
the police shoot him where he stood.
Officer Phillip Morris started to return his gun to his
holster so that he could incapacitate Holmes using a stun gun. It was at that
moment when Holmes charged at Morris, forcing Morris and officer Erin Mast to
shoot and kill him. Holmes died on the scene. He was 19 years old.
Both officers were later exonerated of any wrongdoing as
the body camera audio and video showed that Holmes had forced the officers to
use deadly force by charging at Morris with a knife. According to the Colorado
State University Police Department, Morris was not disciplined as the camera
footage, the available forensic evidence, Morris’ testimony, and that of
officer Mast all clearly show that the officers were in the right when they
fired on Holmes.
On January 1, 2020, the State of Colorado put into effect
a red flag law which makes it possible for a legal gun owner to have his or her
guns confiscated on the strength of an anonymous tip from the public.
According to local reporters at 9News, “Susan Holmes filed an extreme risk protection order (ERPO)
petition against Cpl. Philip Morris in Larimer County on Jan. 9.”
In this version of the red flag law, as explained by
9News, “[…] a family member, cohabitant or law enforcement officer can
submit an extreme risk protection order petition if a person can be considered
to be a threat to themselves or others. A judge will then rule on the petition.”
In keeping with the spirit of these wholly un-American red
flag laws, the hearing can be held without the person of interest’s knowledge-
leaving out any possibility of confronting their accusers or preparing a
defense. The order to confiscate the weapons can be given without due process.
It is then up to the person of interest to prove that they are not a threat and
apply to have their weapons returned, which can be costly and time-consuming.
It is not surprising that this law would be used by the
vengeful family member of someone killed by a police officer. Still, this case
is a prime example of how a person can be acting according to the expectations
of their employer and within the law and still fall victim to red flag laws.
Colorado House Minority Leader Rep. Patrick Neville
released a statement on Tuesday saying that this case shows the bill was
“badly written.” He followed this with the following tweet, “We predicted this and said a falsely accused person has no
recourse other than hoping a DA files charges. No recourse to recoup lost wages
or reputation. One example of many about how this bill was so horribly
On Wednesday, Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith said he
would not authorize the service of the petition to officer Morris.
If Morris were a private citizen, he would almost certainly lose his right to bear arms. These laws are patently unconstitutional. They violate due process, which is a cornerstone of our justice system- and a foundational right of every American citizen.
The post Red Flag Law Used Against Police Officer Involved in a Fatal Shooting appeared first on American gun news.
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