The fatal shooting by El Paso County deputies and Manitou police officers of a man who shot and killed a sheriff's K9 in April has been ruled justified, the 4th Judicial District Attorney's office announced Friday.
Wilford Robert Deweese, 67, of Cape Canaveral, Fla., was shot approximately 22 times by four law enforcement officials from both agencies after a standoff on April 11 in Manitou Springs in which Deweese refused numerous orders to surrender peacefully, the District Attorney's Office said.
Police had received a report from a bartender at Royal Tavern, 924 Manitou Ave., who said Deweese was drunk and brandished a gun at her. She told police Deweese then left the bar.
Officers Levi Hoover and Jeffrey Schuelke made contact with Deweese in the 800 block of Manitou Avenue, the DA's office said. Deweese did not heed officer's orders to approach them to discuss what had happened. Despite officer's subsequent orders for Deweese to raise his hands, Deweese said he was recording them on his phone while slowly reaching for his waistband, the DA's office said.
After 10 minutes, sheriff's deputies arrived. Deputy Daniel LeBaron confirmed the incident at the tavern, the DA's office said. Soon after, Deputy Ronnie Hancock displayed his K9 partner Jinx, to persuade Deweese to comply with demands.
For eight minutes, Hancock continued to issue demands to Deweese to approach the officers with nothing in his hands, the DA's office said. During this time, Deweese was on his cellphone saying he would shoot the K9.
Hancock eventually released Jinx, and Deweese shot the dog in the head. Deweese then shot at officers, who returned fire.
Deweese died despite life-saving measures from law enforcement personnel from the Manitou Springs Fire Department. A 9 mm pistol was found near Deweese's body.
Jinx's killing caused an outpouring of support from around the county, with El Paso law enforcement holding a memorial and a national nonprofit donating funds to police to outfit their K9s with protective vests.
“Sadly, Jinx’s vest didn’t save him, but the vest is still a critical piece of protective equipment,” said Fountain police spokeswoman Lisa Schneider after the donation in June.
It was announced at the end of April that the El Paso County Sheriff's Office would be receiving a replacement for Jinx.