No charges against Boulder County deputy in apparent suicide by cop

In the last few months, we've reported about two incidents that fall under the heading of "suicide by cop," including a shooting involving a despondent CSU student and a Denver face-off during which the gunman reportedly said, "If they don't fucking shoot me, I'll stab them in the goddamn eyeball."

And now, a third -- this one in the Longmont area. Christopher George, seen here, died after being shot by a deputy whose actions have been ruled justified. Photos and details below.

At just after 9 a.m. on December 29, according to a letter from the Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle (see it below), deputies Brandon Bussard and Gary Robinson arrived at a home on the 8300 block of North 95th Street in unincorporated Boulder County in regard to 43-year-old George, described as a "possibly suicidal male."

There, his mom told the deputies that George had left what could be construed as a suicide note in his room; it had been found by his sister. The Longmont Times Call reports that George was depressed about being out of a job and having to move back home. He's said to have been holed up in his room for the previous three days, leaving only to use the bathroom.

During the conversation, the deputies asked if George had access to a weapon. The letter records the answer they received as "no."

At that point, George's sister stepped out of his bedroom, leaving him to speak with Bussard. George was seated on the bed, half-covered by bedding, with his back to the wall, and he refused to engage in conversation.

Then, moments later, the letter says George reached behind his back and pulled a handgun into view. He then racked the weapon, readying it for firing.

Later analysis showed that the gun had jammed and wouldn't have been able to shoot. But lacking this information, Bussard immediately yelled "Gun!," pulled his own revolver and fired it three times, striking George at point-blank range.

George was rushed to the hospital, but he didn't survive his wounds.

After examining the facts of the case, the Boulder County DA's office determined that Bussard's actions were justified. After all, the letter notes that "other than waiting for the subject to shoot him, the deputy had no choice.

"The sad irony in this matter is that the family had called us for help, and instead the call ended tragically for them," the document continues. "That, of course, is never a desirable outcome. However, given the information the deputies had when they arrived, they responded and reacted appropriately. The end result was wholly within the control of Mr. George, who appears to have acted intentionally to cause this result. Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to his family, who have been greatly traumatized by this entire incident."

We also offer our condolences to George's friends, family and loved ones. Here's the complete letter.

Christopher George Shooting Report

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our News archive circa December 2013: "Jamie Strickland's attempted suicide by cop: 'If they don't f*cking shoot me, I'll stab them.'"

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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