Body cam footage of a fatal officer-involved shooting earlier this month in Durango is expected to be released in the coming weeks, said Durango Police Department Chief Bob Brammer.
“We are an open book,” Brammer said this week. “And I want to put this behind us to move on, but these things do take time to ensure due diligence.”
According to the Durango Police Department, officers were dispatched to O’Reilly Auto Parts at 2475 Main Ave. around 4:30 a.m. July 1 after being alerted by a business alarm of a break-in.
As authorities surrounded the building, the suspect, identified as Jason Noble Snow, 34, of Pagosa Springs, was told to put down a gun he was carrying, but instead he fired at an officer, Brammer said.
The officer, Padraic Ingle, fired back, killing Snow, who was pronounced dead at the scene before medical personnel arrived.
A woman who is suspected of aiding the burglary, Paige Hiehle, 23, fled the scene but was later arrested.
The investigation into the Durango Police Department’s first officer-involved shooting since 2000 is being handled by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. A spokeswoman for the bureau did not respond to a request for comment.
Brammer said he expects CBI to finish its investigation in the next couple of weeks. Then, CBI’s findings will be turned over to the 6th Judicial District Attorney’s Office for a separate investigation and review.
Once those investigations are completed, Brammer said the Durango Police Department will be able to issue a statement about the final incident report and release a version of the body cam footage.
The Durango Herald filed an open records request for the body cam footage but was denied, with Durango police citing an open investigation.
Brammer said CBI’s investigation is revealing similar facts to what Durango police reported about the incident, based on initial reports he’s heard of the investigation.
“Everything is lining up and checking out ... to what we suspected it was,” he said. “There’s been nothing out of the norm at this point at all.”
Brammer said the Durango Police Department is not against releasing the officer’s body cam footage. But, he said it will have to be edited and redacted to some degree given the graphic and violent nature of the incident.
“You have to understand, someone died, and it’s a violent and graphic encounter,” he said. “We have kids, we have family members, and all those people live in this community ... so we have to balance transparency with the greater good for the people.”
A new state law speeds up the time in which Colorado police departments must release footage for office-involved shootings, but that doesn’t take effect until 2023.
Jeff Roberts, executive director of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, said under current laws the disclosure of footage is a criminal justice record subject to the Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act.
“Records custodians can withhold such records, or release only portions, if they determine that disclosure would be ‘contrary to the public interest,’” he said. “In making that determination, they are supposed to conduct a balancing test of factors that includes the public interest served by disclosure, any privacy interests and the agency’s interest in conducting its investigation.”
Attorney Steven Zansberg with Ballard Saphr LLP added, “There is no set time frame for disclosure in the Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act.”
Zansberg is a media law specialist who has represented the Herald in the past.
Durango City Councilor Barbara Noseworthy said she has had residents reach out, wondering when the body cam footage would be released.
“We’re not trying to hide anything, but this is the process,” she said. “I think it’s important for the city to keep the public informed.”
Brammer said Officer Ingle, a four-year veteran of the force, is expected to return to duty next week.
“We don’t want to rush him,” Brammer said. “It’s the worst situation an officer can go through, essentially, and we need to make sure he’s good and in the right mental state to serve our community.”