"Most of the time, officers follow their training and handle things in a proper, professional manner," acknowledges attorney Jim Scherer. "But occasionally these things occur — and I believe there can be a tendency for people to give the officer more of a benefit of the doubt in these circumstances than perhaps they should be entitled to."
Attorney Gordon Vaughan, who represented Clear Creek County Deputy Don Wilson in the case, sees things differently. He previously told us that while Wilson feels badly that Cox is now a tetraplegic (he has the use of one arm, but is otherwise paralyzed from the neck down), the injury was caused by "the choices Mr. Cox made — and the lack of choices he gave Deputy Wilson."
"He was having some issues: His dad had died recently and he was taking it very badly," he notes. "But there's really no excuse for Mr. Cox's driving behavior that day. He should have been arrested, taken into custody and dealt with according to the law."
A bullet circumvented this process. Vaughan said Deputy Wilson, who'd never before fired his duty weapon in a thirty-plus-year career, "was about to be crushed between his vehicle and Mr. Cox's vehicle" after leaving his patrol car and moving toward the suspect on foot. However, Scherer maintains that Cox was boxed in by other cars, and police dispatch records showed that "they all sat there for about a full minute. A lady in front saw little movement by Mr. Cox's vehicle and no attempt to escape. But then Deputy Wilson stepped out of his vehicle, and evidence presented at trial showed that he fired about three seconds later — and it appears that the gun was inside the passenger compartment."
The jury disagreed. But Scherer feels that the proliferation of police shootings in Colorado and the country as a whole "is a problem, and there are mechanisms under the law to address this problem. The law needs to be enforced."
He adds, "There should be more public scrutiny on these types of incidents. They are rare, but when they happen, they need to be responded to, and the officers need to be held to account."