Justice, Boulder Style

The county will soon have its first new DA in 28 years. But in order for justice to be done, former cop Steve Thomas thinks the office needs a complete overhaul.

Thomas was involved in two shootings in Boulder. The first took place in 1992, when he got a call that a man was walking down Folsom Street carrying weapons and shouting, "I'm gonna kill all the niggers." Thomas caught up with the man at Folsom and Arapahoe; there were already some officers present, and the street was crowded. "This guy is holding two big butcher knives," says Thomas. "Long hair. He just has these wild eyes. And screaming, 'Get President Bush out here, because somebody's going to die today.'

"It starts moving south on Folsom, and for some reason he fixates on me. There's several officers now, maybe five, but you can't control an armed suspect with butcher knives, and what we were trying to do was just keep a semi-circle round him as he moves down the sidewalk. He keeps feinting and starting toward me with these knives, and at one point he closes the gap too quickly and gets closer than I'm comfortable with him coming -- there's this rule in police work that if a suspect with an edged weapon comes closer than 21 feet, he can close that distance faster than you can get off two rounds -- and I shoot him. The first round enters and exits through the hip/groin area, and not only did he not flinch, but I thought my gun didn't go off. But then I realized I had shot him, and you know what this guy did? He looks at me and says, 'No. No. Not here...'" Thomas points toward his own hip, then his forehead. "'Put one right there.'

"You know in the movies, they show the police shooting somebody and they flip over backward? Here's this guy -- it didn't even look like a bee had stung him, and he'd just taken a through-and-through round with a .45 caliber. So he continues to move south, and there's a sergeant there who's calling for a dog, and there's officers shouting at this guy..."

He aims to plea: Current Boulder DA Alex 
Hunter.Steve Thomas, former cop, wrote the book on 
the Ramsey investigation.Steve Thomas is building a 
future outside law enforcement.
John Johnston
He aims to plea: Current Boulder DA Alex Hunter.Steve Thomas, former cop, wrote the book on the Ramsey investigation.Steve Thomas is building a future outside law enforcement.
He aims to plea: Current Boulder DA Alex Hunter.
He aims to plea: Current Boulder DA Alex Hunter.

Thomas stops, shakes his head. "Only in Boulder," he says. "They must have thought it was a movie being filmed. I think anywhere else, once the shooting started, people would have taken cover. But people are coming out of the 7-Eleven with Slurpees, people are walking by married-student housing shouting, 'You fucking pigs. Leave the guy alone.'

"He starts to charge at me again. I fire another through-and-through round. He doubles over, looks right at me and says, 'That one hurt.' I ran up, knocked him to the ground, and this bleeding, slippery, psychotic suspect is still fighting."

Eventually, the man was handcuffed and taken away in an ambulance.

After this incident, a police committee nominated Thomas for a medal of valor. But the nomination was blocked by then-police chief Tom Koby, who said he refused to recognize a police officer for using deadly force against a citizen.

Thomas's second shooting occurred in 1993, when an armed man barricaded himself inside a trailer, having already shot at his wife and daughter. He came outside several times, pointing his gun to his own head and chest. When he pointed the gun at Thomas, Thomas shot him. Immediately afterward, rather than talking to the cops about what had happened, Chief Koby went to the hospital to visit the suspect.

John Ramsey: This man has harmed us deeply. He's failed in his responsibilities as a police officer. He's failed us. He's failed JonBenét. He's failed the community of Boulder.

-- Larry King Live

Thomas worked the Hill for three years before going into undercover narcotics. He was still long-haired and bearded when he was called in on December 28, 1996, to help solve the murder of JonBenét Ramsey, the six-year-old whose body had been discovered in the basement of her family home two days earlier. By the time Thomas entered the case, the crime scene had been almost irretrievably contaminated. Dozens of people had walked through the Ramsey house. Key evidence -- the pad of paper on which a long, rambling ransom note was written, a suitcase in the basement -- had been handled and moved. John Ramsey, who'd found the body, had ripped off the tape covering her mouth and carried her upstairs; in the living room, both parents had hugged the body, which was then covered with a blanket. If the circumstances hadn't been so grave, the extent of the law-enforcement bungling might have seemed comic.

At one point, according to Thomas's book, a crime-scene tech dusted the Ramsey home for fingerprints while a victims' assistant followed behind, busily tidying up with spray cleaner and cloth.

Even as Thomas and his fellow officers struggled to retrieve what evidence was left and to put a viable case together, other obstacles appeared. Eventually, they would prove insurmountable. Two salient facts became apparent almost immediately: The Ramseys would not cooperate with the police investigation, and the Boulder County District Attorney's Office would be more supportive of the Ramseys than of its own police team.

As Thomas describes it, John and Patsy Ramsey began lawyering up within a day of the discovery of their daughter's body. On December 26, the couple went to the home of friends, where they were joined by another friend, Mike Bynum, a prominent local lawyer who had once worked in the district attorney's office. By the next day, a three-person team hired by the Ramseys had already interviewed the Ramseys' close friends Fleet and Priscilla White.

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1 comments
whobodydunit
whobodydunit

I have been reading the book by Steve Thomas and also the Death of Innocence , and the online story by M'Linda Kula. I am just trying to get some evidence that may stand out.  She claims to have actually met and talked to the person who she believes murdered JonBenet. After she made it public she had a dead rat at her doorstep, and some other threats and warnings from someone. It made me wonder when Steve Thomas got a dead mutilated cat at his doorstep, could it be the same person? Although Steve Thomas was strongly suspecting the Ramseys, it did not come out as public (I don't think) until after this incident happened with the dead cat. Maybe the killer was also sending him a message? It would be interesting to see a time line of when this said killer that came back to the east side of the country after Christmas , and when he may have had opportunity to return to Colorado later.

 
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