Update: A few months back, we told you about the fatal police shooting of Damon Blair in Westminster; our previous coverage has been incorporated in this update.
Blair was an alleged car thief, as were several others killed by Colorado police officers over the past year or so, including Jessie Hernandez, Robin Barber, Chan Lieth and Ryan Ronquillo, whose mother has filed a lawsuit claiming that cops didn't give her son a chance to surrender before opening fire.
The scenario described in the officer-involved-shooting letter issued by 17th Judicial District DA Dave Young in the Blair case is quite different. While Ronquillo was unarmed, Blair is said to have possessed a gun and shot it at a police officer, prompting the cop and four others to unload their weapons into him.
The five officers fired a cumulative 36 times, with thirteen of those bullets striking Blair.
As we've reported, the Westminster incident got under way at around 9:50 p.m. on Wednesday, April 27.
The location: the 7300 block of Tennyson Street, where Westminster police officers were investigating a report about a stolen vehicle.
There they encountered an adult male — Blair — who was thought to be associated with the car in question, a red 1990 Honda Civic.
A Facebook page that remains online at this writing maintains that Blair lived in Denver and previously attended North High School. Among the posts he shared is the following, in which he declared that he won't stop "poppin' pills 'til my death date and I'm dropped and killed."
I stand up when i pee i break bread so i can eat i say shit with my chest out.i aint no lil ass nigga im a gangbanger a thug you don't know what I have done to be able to call the shade mine.im a king at least one of the most hated people you will meet im not going to lie im a DemoN at haert and that is why I should cut it out.i might be dead on the inside but I still crynon the out not help from god so i turned to Saintin with the same question and he answered Kill yourself. Now im done with the world i want pistol mouth wash in a hurry.you could of saved me from burning but the truth be told I'm not a bitch im not going anywhere tell they kill me kids if you want to be able to get me bacc swallow some pills and relapse im not going sober cuz i cant and i wont stop poppin pills tell my death date and im dropped and killed so tell me how you feel about the world
In other posts, Blair openly expressed an antipathy for police. Note that in April 2015, he shared a Now This video sporting this description: "'Oh! I shot him! I'm sorry' — a part-time Tulsa cop accidentally shot and killed an unarmed man who was running away from him."
His caption reads:
Fuck cops peices of shit.
Hear that pig fuck your breath!
you didnt do nothing wrong?
Fuck you pig you should get shot bitch ass nigga
Here's that clip:
According to the incident overview featured in the decision letter, officers inside a special-enforcement-team van watched as Blair approached the Honda, opened the passenger side door and tossed a bag inside before circling to the driver's side and climbing behind the wheel.
At that point, the officers are said to have disembarked and yelled to Blair that he was under arrest — and when he failed to comply with orders to surrender, one of the cops used a hammer to shatter the driver's-side window.
The car was rolling backward as the cops grabbed at Blair's clothing, the letter maintains. Then, Blair allegedly raised a handgun in his right hand and fired it at one of the cops, Officer Roger Stockman.
This action prompted a fusillade of gunfire from Stockman and the other cops: officers James Holley, Rob Phelps, Anthony Stroup and Matt Neihart. Here's the breakdown of bullets, as featured in the letter:
Officer Hooley fired eleven rounds
Officer Phelps fired eleven rounds
Officer Stroup fired eight rounds
Officer Neihart fired three rounds
Officer Stockman fired thirteen rounds
A subsequent autopsy determined that Blair suffered thirteen gunshot wounds, the majority of which were to his head, neck and torso.
The autopsy also broke down the substances found in Blair's blood, of which there were many:
Carboxyhemoglobin — 2 percent saturation
Amphetamine — 220 ng/mL
Methamphetamine — 1000 ng/mL
Codeine — 13 ng/mL
Morphine — 230 ng/mL
6 Monoacetylmorphine <1.0 ng/mL
Young's legal analysis of the shooting is neatly synopsized by this line from a section devoted to Officer Phelps: "When Officer Rob Phelps fired his service weapon, he had just witnessed Mr. Blair shooting a handgun at Officer Stockman and thought that Officer Stockman had been shot in the head."
As a result, Young states, "The prosecution cannot prove that the involved officers' actions of pulling their triggers intending to shoot Mr. Blair was not justified."
Look below to see Fox31's report in the immediate aftermath of the shooting and the decision letter.