DA clears Boulder police officer who fired at King Soopers shooting suspect

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May 6—The Boulder District Attorney's Office has cleared the officer who shot and injured the suspect in March's King Soopers mass shooting of any wrongdoing, ruling that the officer's actions were justified.

In a report released Thursday, Boulder District Attorney Michael Dougherty ruled Boulder police Officer Richard Steidell would not be facing any charges.

Steidell had been on paid administrative leave pending an investigation by the county's multi-agency shoot team, which is standard procedure for cases in use of force cases. Boulder police spokeswoman Dionne Waugh said Steidell has been reinstated and will return to active duty Friday.

According to reports, Steidell shot and injured Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 21, after Alissa allegedly killed 10 people, including another Boulder police officer, during a March 22 shooting at the King Soopers at 3600 Table Mesa Drive.

"I appreciate that the Boulder County Investigation Team conducted and independent and thorough review," Dougherty said in a statement. "The integrity and outcome of these investigations are important to everyone involved and to our community. This investigation has certainly highlighted the bravery of Officer Steidell and his fellow officers who took such courageous action by charging into an incredibly dangerous and deadly situation."

Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold said, "The Boulder Police Department is pleased with the outcome of this investigation announced today and continues to be proud of the bravery shown by Officer Steidell and all of our officers that day. Their courageous actions prevented further lives from being taken March 22."

According to a report on the shooting, Alissa exited his car in the King Soopers parking lot just before 2:30 p.m. March 22 and began shooting at people in the parking lot before then moving into the store and continuing to shoot.

Boulder police received the call, and within minutes of the initial calls an initial entry team of three officers led by Officer Eric Talley entered the store. As the team moved through the store and passed one body, Talley was shot and killed.

The two other officers with Talley, Brian Capobianco and Pam Gignac, took cover after shots were fired, but could not tell where the shots were coming from and how many shooters were inside the store.

Steidell was in the area and about to take his lunch break, but told officials he went to the scene when he heard the call even though he was not specifically dispatched. Because the call was for an active shooter, Steidell said he grabbed his duty handgun rather than less lethal options.

At about 2:38 p.m., a second entry team including Steidell entered the store with an officer holding a ballistic shield leading the way. About 20 seconds after the officers entered the store, they were fired upon, with one shot passing directly between two officers' heads.

According to the report, Steidell dove to the ground in a prone position and saw the shooter holding what appeared to be a long gun at the end of an aisle. Steidell fired off a couple of shots from his handgun, and the shooter ducked back out of sight.

Steidell remained in that position for about 90 seconds when he saw the shooter move back into view. Steidell said the shooter raised his weapon and aimed it at officers, and Steidell fired a second round of shots at the suspect.

The shooter again ducked out of sight, and Steidell then took cover again. Shortly after this, Alissa surrendered to SWAT, and was taken to the hospital with a gunshot wound to his leg.

The report noted that Steidell had a clear line of sight and that no civilians were put in harms way when he fired his weapon.

An examination of the scene and review of Steidell's handgun show he fired a total of eight shots. His shots were the last fired in the store by anyone, and he is also the only law enforcement officer to have fired a weapon during the incident.

In conclusion, the report found that "there is absolutely no question that Officer Steidell was justified in firing his weapon."

In finding that Steidell's actions were justified, the report notes at that point officers were aware of at least two casualties and had reason to believe there were likely more and that it was an active shooter situation.

"Officer Steidell had, along with other members of the second entry group, just been fired upon. Further, Officer Steidell believed that the use of force was required to prevent an imminent threat of bodily injury or death to himself or another police officer. His beliefs were both objectively reasonable and, upon further review, correct.

"Thus, Officer Steidell was justified in using force."

The report also says that while neither Steidell nor any other officer gave a clear verbal warning of their intent to fire, doing so would have placed the officers in danger and that all officers were uniformed and surrounded by squad cars outside the building.

The report also notes Steidell was justified in using lethal force given the fact that the shooter was wearing body armor and carrying an assault weapon, and the fact that the shooter had already killed civilians and an officer.

In addition to Talley, Denny Stong, 20; Neven Stanisic, 23; Rikki Olds, 25; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49;Teri Leiker, 51;Suzanne Fountain, 59; Kevin Mahoney, 61;Lynn Murray, 62; and Jody Waters, 65, were killed in the shooting.

Alissa is charged with 10 counts of murder and 34 counts of attempted murder for shooting at civilians and law enforcement, including Steidell. He is also facing one count of first-degree assault and ten counts of felony possession of a prohibited large capacity magazine.

Alissa was found with two weapons at the scene, an AR-556 and a 9 mm handgun, and 10 magazines. All of them were purchased legally, prosecutors said.

Alissa is set for a status conference on May 25, after his attorneys asked for time to assess his mental health before continuing to a proof evident presumption great hearing to determine if there is enough evidence for the case to move forward and for Alissa to continue to be held without bond.