VALLEY — After reviewing all the evidence and concluding that the trooper used lethal force as a last resort, 12th Judicial District Attorney Crista Newmyer-Olsen decided not to charge Colorado State Patrol Trooper Ramiro Contreras in connection with the fatal shooting of suspect Jennifer Sharp, 37, of Lavaca, Texas on August 25 on Highway 17.
The DA’s findings regarding the officer-involved shooting were released on Wednesday.
The DA made her decision after viewing the scene and reviewing the dash camera recording, dispatch recordings, reports from the Colorado Bureau of lnvestigation and Saguache County Sheriff’s Office, reports of the stolen vehicle and eluding that occurred before the incident, an interview of Trooper Contreras and statements from the witnesses at the scene.
“After a full and complete review of the information now available relating to the investigation of the officer involved shooting occurring August 25, 2018 involving Trooper Ramiro Contreras, I have determined that Trooper Contreras will not be charged with any criminal offenses arising from his actions on that date,” DA Newmyer-Olsen stated in an October 1st letter to Colorado State Patrol administrators with copies to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. “Further, it is my determination that he reacted with the appropriate levels of both restraint and caution and did what was necessary to protect members of the public, himself and other officers.”
On that Saturday morning, Sharp and Nelson Billings, 26, of Lavaca, Texas, were in a stolen Jeep and led officers on a lengthy pursuit from Moffat, where the two may have been living at the time, over various county roads to an area on Highway 17 north of Alamosa where CSP successfully halted the vehicle using stop sticks. Billings was driving the stolen vehicle and Sharp, who was armed with a shotgun, was a passenger.
At that point, the two suspects got out of their vehicle with the shotgun and were heading to another vehicle that had pulled over to yield to the pursuit and was pinned in by other traffic stopped at the scene.
“It is clear that the female passenger intended to shoot herself or someone else, based upon her own statements to dispatch that ‘people are going to die,’ among other statements and communications made to dispatch or located in the subsequent search of the stolen vehicle,” Newmyer-Olsen stated.
“The stolen Jeep stopped within mere feet of a pickup with two occupants,” Newmyer-Olsen added. “That pickup could not proceed forward as there was a semi-truck directly in front of it. The stolen Jeep was driven directly toward the pickup and the driver was clearly running toward that vehicle at the same time the female passenger exited the Jeep armed with a shotgun.”
At that point Trooper Contreras shot Sharp, and Billings picked up the shotgun that Sharp had been carrying and used it to commit suicide.
“It is clear that Trooper Contreras delayed using deadly force until the last possible moment, at which time the occupants of the stolen Jeep were directly endangering the safety of other members of the public,” Newmyer-Olsen concluded.