No charges will be filed against four Colorado Springs police officers who shot an Army staff sergeant multiple times, killing him, after he pointed an AR-15 rifle at police when they responded to a domestic disturbance call.
The shooting was deemed justified following a review of witness reports, physical evidence, police body camera footage, and the original 911 call by the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office for Colorado. The office determined that the four police officers “held a reasonable belief that Thorpe put the officers and his own family members in imminent danger.”
Staff Sgt. Virgill Thorpe, a 28-year-old cavalry scout and Afghanistan veteran assigned to nearby Fort Carson, was shot and killed on April 19. Officers were dispatched to a residence in the 3200 block of Oak Creek Drive East at about 9:30 p.m. in response to a domestic violence incident there.
The reporting party, identified as Thorpe’s wife, “indicated she had been physically assaulted” by Thorpe, according to the district attorney’s office.
“She further reported that Mr. Thorpe was armed with an assault rifle, had ‘cocked’ the rifle, and had threatened to shoot police officers if they came to the house,” the district attorney’s office stated. “There were four of Mr. Thorpe’s family members and friends in the home in addition to Mr. Thorpe and his wife.”
When officers arrived on scene, they made contact with Thorpe and one of his friends at the front door. Thorpe was described as “extremely agitated,” and said, “Let’s go to war,” the district attorney’s office stated.
Police were unable to calm him down, according to the report, and Thorpe retreated into the home where his family and friends were located. Thorpe’s wife, his stepdaughters and a family friend were in the basement of the home near an egress window.
Police pulled Thorpe’s wife and one of his stepdaughters out of the window and to safety. While they attempted to pull his second stepdaughter out of the window, Thorpe approached it with an AR-15 rifle, raised the weapon and pointed it at the police officers, according to the district attorney.
“His stepdaughter jumped out of the way. Four officers, fearful for the safety of the family members and their fellow officers opened fire,” the district attorney’s office stated.
All of the officers on the scene had activated their body cameras. That footage, along with the 911 call to dispatch, will be released publicly through the Colorado Springs Police Department website on Monday, said police spokesman Lt. Jim Sokolik.
After being shot, Thorpe retreated further into the basement and collapsed. Police forced entry into the home and located him and his rifle. Police called for an ambulance and provided medical aid to Thorpe until paramedics arrived, including CPR when he stopped breathing, the district attorney’s office added.
Thorpe was transported to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. One police officer and one of Thorpe’s stepdaughters received minor injuries from flying glass and debris. The stepdaughter was treated at the hospital and later released.
Thorpe fired a round from his AR-15 during the incident, according to the district attorney’s office. One of the stepdaughters also reported that Thorpe fired his rifle first.
The district attorney’s office ultimately determined that the four officers held a reasonable belief that Thorpe put the officers and his own family members in imminent danger of being killed or receiving serious bodily injury.
“Therefore, Corporal Joseph Somosky and Officers Eddie Nassar, Kristopher Czajkowski, and Charles Warren were justified in using deadly force,” the district attorney’s office stated. “No charges will be filed.”
Thorpe, a combat veteran assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, joined the Army on May 22, 2012, according to his service history. His home of record is Canton, Massachusetts, and he had been assigned to Fort Carson since April 14, 2016.
The shooting that killed Thorpe was Colorado Springs’ 16th homicide and second shooting by a police officer this year, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.
Kyle Rempfer is an editor and reporter who has covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq. Follow on Twitter @Kyle_Rempfer