Deadly shooting by Fountain police officer justified, El Paso County DA rules

The police shooting death of a man in El Paso County has been reviewed and the District Attorney’s Office rules that the deadly force used by a Fountain police officer was justified.

The shooting happened at about 5:20 p.m. April 19 in the area of Interstate 25 and North Academy Boulevard.

Robert Paul Garcia, 38, was shot by Officer Isaac Abila after Garcia led police on a long vehicle pursuit on Interstate 25, according to a review letter released Thursday. Garcia, driving a U-Haul pickup truck, failed to pull over for the Colorado State Patrol. After multiple attempts to stop the truck, it was ultimately stopped by a trooper who bumped the truck to a stop with a patrol vehicle.

Troopers, including Sgt. Wallace Lathrop, and Fountain officers, including Abila, with guns drawn approached the truck and ordered Garcia to show his hands and get out of the pickup.

Garcia disregarded the orders and “placed the suspect vehicle into gear and accelerated forward,” the review letter said. “Abila, believed that Sgt. Lathrop was in the direct path of the suspect vehicle, and objectively believed Sgt. Lathrop was in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury.”

Abila fired 11 shots, hitting Garcia five times. Lathrop fired one shot, striking the left door of the truck. Garcia was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

A Daisy Powerline .177-caliber BB/Pellet gun fell out of the driver’s side of the truck when Garcia was removed from the cab after the shooting, the review letter said.

The state patrol was trying to stop the truck because it was allegedly involved in a robbery in Pueblo, the CSPD said in a news release at the time of the shooting.

The U-Haul truck Garcia was driving was overdue, but there was no report of it being stolen,  according to the review.

“After completing a thorough review of the facts and evidence the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s
Office has determined the use of deadly physical force by both Officer Isaac Abila, (FPD) and
Sergeant Wallace Lathrop, (CSP) was justified under the law of the State of Colorado because
Mr. Garcia drove his vehicle towards Sergeant Lathrop’s immediate location,” the release said. “This was a homicide, but the use of deadly physical force by Officer Abila in this case was justified.”


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