Ex Army Col. Eric Henderson Accepts Plea in Drunk Driving Case That Killed Trooper

Update: Last November, we told you about the tragic death of Colorado State Trooper Jaimie Jursevics during an Interstate 25 traffic stop and the subsequent arrest of Eric Henderson, a retired Army colonel and military consultant who garnered enormous respect during his distinguished career, for ending her life while driving drunk after a Broncos game. We've incorporated our previous coverage into this post.

Now comes word that Henderson will be in court this afternoon to formally accept a plea deal in the case, which inspired him to say, "I killed a cop" as he cried after his arrest.

A 2013 article on the official U.S. Army website headlined "Command says farewell to G-33 chief" pays tribute to Henderson, as does an accompanying Flickr gallery of photos from the festivities.

Examples are seen here.

Retired Army Brigadier General Kurt S. Story, former deputy commander of the Joint Functional Component Command for Space under U.S. Strategic Command, served as host for the bash.

"Henderson is the type of person that people want to follow," the piece quotes him as saying. "A leader has a responsibility to the group, and Eric never loses sight of that. A leader has a responsibility to himself, and Eric doesn't ever lose sight of that. A leader has a responsibility to the community — in this case the larger Army enterprise — our nation. Eric never lost sight of that. And lastly a leader has an obligation to ethics and morality — to our code, and Eric never lost sight of that. Eric is a great American. I'm proud of him, and proud to have served with him."

After retirement, Henderson became a program manager for Colorado Professional Resources, LLC. Here's a blurb about him that previously appeared on the organization's website. (At this writing, it's no longer there.)
Mr. Eric Henderson is a program manager and a recent addition to Colorado Professional Resources. He recently retired from the United States Army, where he served with distinction for over 27 years. Eric served in a multitude of leadership and senior executive level positions, culminating in commanding the Army’s only Space Brigade and fulfilling the duties and responsibilities of the Chief of Operations position for the Space and Missile Defense Command, Army Strategic Command (SMDC-ARSTRAT). As one of the Army’s first twelve officers selected for the Space Operations Officer career field (functional area 40) he is both a pioneer and a subject matter expert in the military applications of Space and Missile Defense for the US Army, the Joint Community, and our nation’s allies. He is an integrator and operator of numerous space and missile defense operations systems.

Henderson was also president of the Mountain and Plains Appaloosa Horse Club, whose website listed his address as Peyton, Colorado. That reference is now gone, too.

In addition, Henderson became party to a lawsuit against a wind farm near Calhan earlier in 2015.

"We want to be good neighbors. We didn't instigate this fight or this conflict but we won't shy from it, either," he said about the issue in an interview with KRDO-TV.

But he got far more attention for what happened on the evening of November 15.

On southbound I-25 near mile marker 176, according to the arrest affidavit, Trooper Jursevics was dispatched on a REDDI report; the acronym stands for Report Every Drunk Driver Immediately.

A witness told investigators that the overhead lights on the trooper's vehicle were activated and she was shining her flashlight when she was struck by a vehicle, sending the flashlight flying through the air.

Trooper Jursevics  was found lying in the middle of a lane, face down, with blood running and pooling around her body. She didn't have a pulse, the report reveals.

In the meantime, an officer with the Palmer Lake Police Department received a description of the suspect vehicle — a black Cummings truck with a temporary tag. He pulled over the truck, which was being driven by Henderson, clad in a Peyton Manning jersey. He was accompanied by a passenger, Craig Whitehill, a friend with a military background. Whitehill told investigators that the two of them had tailgated with a dozen or more friends at the Broncos-Chiefs game. Henderson is said to have consumed multiple beers over the course of the day, including one while driving.

The truck had obvious damage, but when the officer asked Henderson what happened, he responded, "Nothing." However, his eyes are said to have been glassy and watering and his speech was slurred, prompting him to be handcuffed and taken into custody on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Shortly thereafter, Henderson was taken to a hospital in Castle Rock for a blood draw, and while there, he expressed shock about the possible charges against him. According to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, they include vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of an accident, driving under the influence and careless driving resulting in death.

While paperwork was being completed, a detective keeping an eye on Henderson heard him say aloud, "I killed a cop" — and he appeared to be crying.

The cop in question — Trooper Jursevics — was the mother of a young daughter.

The two of them are seen in the photo above, as featured on a GoFundMe page that remains online.

At this writing, more than $102,000 has been pledged toward a goal of $100,000.

According to 9News, Henderson's plea deal could be more than a wrist slap. The station reveals that although he'll be eligible for probation, he could also be sentenced to between four and thirteen years behind bars.

Look below to see a series of Eric Henderson mug shots — a single shot, plus that image paired with a side angle that better shows off his Broncos jersey. That's followed by a 7News report broadcast last November, shortly after the bust was made public, and the arrest affidavit.

Eric Peterson Arrest Affidavit.pdf

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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