On February 4, Fort Collins's Susan Holmes was arrested during a live-stream broadcast on suspicion of perjury related to her filing of an Extreme Risk Protection Order, or ERPO, against Phil Morris. The CSU police corporal killed her son, Jeremy Holmes, near the university's campus in July 2017, while the nineteen-year-old was in the midst of a mental-health crisis.
Now, Holmes is sharing her most detailed comments to date about the bust; it was prompted by a warrant from the Larimer County Sheriff's Office, whose leader, Sheriff Justin Smith, had castigated her actions on social media. In an email interview with Westword, she writes, "I'm in bad shape right now. The sheriff department intentionally withheld proper medical treatment for my injuries for the whole time I was imprisoned. In fact, I'm having a difficult time answering these questions. I can't concentrate."
Smith is a longtime Second Amendment advocate who joined a complaint against Colorado gun-control laws in 2013; it ultimately fell short. Throughout much of last year, he expressed concerns about a controversial red flag law proposal, which envisioned a framework for taking guns away from those considered a danger to themselves and others. Nonetheless, the measure passed and went into effect on January 1 — and shortly thereafter, Holmes filed an ERPO against Morris.
The orders are supposed to be reserved for use by a "family or household member to the respondent," but Holmes checked a box on the form that reads, "I have a child in common with the respondent. (Regardless of marriage or whether you have lived with the respondent at any time.)" That child was Jeremy, whom Holmes bore and raised and Morris fatally shot after the teen moved rapidly in his direction while armed with a knife — an action she believes the police precipitated by overreacting. She's been battling with authorities for more than two years over their refusal to release body-camera footage they see as tangential (it was captured by an officer away from the shooting scene) but that she considers proof that the tragedy could and should have been avoided.
After a judge rejected this effort, Holmes stood by her actions, saying that she'd consulted two attorneys in advance of the filing. She added: "I don't feel like I perjured myself. I don't."
Clearly, Smith, who'd previously dubbed Holmes's filings a "fraud" that illustrated the law's "tremendous procedural deficiencies" on Facebook, had a different opinion. She was soon targeted by a warrant for suspicion of perjury and attempting to influence a public servant, both Class 4 felonies that carry potential punishment of between two and six years in prison and a $2,000 to $500,000 fine. Moreover, Larimer County Crime Stoppers named her the area's most wanted person on January 31.
Five days later, she was taken into custody, as seen in the video posted by a YouTuber who goes by the handle timmybmn. In the clip, voices of law enforcers trying to gain entry to Holmes's residence get louder at around the twenty-minute point. Three minutes or so later, lights begin blinking, and Holmes says the cops are coming into her home. She appears to be pulled off-camera as she makes claims about arm injuries, and within seconds, her half of the broadcast abruptly ends.
Holmes describes her trip to jail like so: "I was face down on the cold cement floor in agony from the injuries I sustained from the FC police and the two sheriff deputies, who threw me down because I couldn't kneel all the way down so they could take off the cuffs.... I couldn't move from the floor because of the pain.... I couldn't lift myself up. I was in that condition from the time they threw me on the floor until they finally came to release me the next day."
According to her, "I repeatedly requested medical treatment for my injuries. I asked that they call an ambulance, take me to the hospital so that I could have X-rays and have my pain and injuries treated by a doctor. Along with that request, I stated repeatedly: 'This is Susan Holmes from Fort Collins, I am not a criminal.... I am a political prisoner. I am an American citizen...this is not China. This is the United States of America and I have a right to proper medical treatment for my injuries.'"
When asked if she saw her designation as Larimer County's most wanted person as appropriate, she answers, "No. This label is a perfect example of out-of-control police agencies abusing their governmental powers when confronted with their corruption. They lie, they cover up their criminal behavior, and if you fall into their hands...you will be killed or tortured by them. I was tortured in the sheriff's department for twenty-something hours by [them] withholding proper medical treatment for the injuries sustained from the brutal treatment by FC police and the sheriff's department. The sheriff's department is probably altering and editing all of the tapes as I write this."
Does she fear that her current legal struggles are effectively removing the focus from what happened to her son? "They want to silence me for exposing the fact they covered up Jeremy's murder by withholding the unredacted, exact copies of audio and body camera footage, which would reveal that they tampered with evidence...a felony charge," she maintains.
In her words, "The public needs to understand that there is reason the police, DA , judiciary and attorney general do not want me to have the real evidence from Jeremy's murder."
According to the Colorado Judicial Department, ten Extreme Risk Protection Order cases and eleven total ERPOS had been filed through February 5; the contradiction is apparently explained by one of the petitioners requested both a temporary and permanent order. Nine petitions asked for a temporary ERPO (four in Denver County, two in Larimer County, and one apiece in Archuleta, Douglas and Lincoln counties), while requests for permanent orders were put forward in Denver and Larimer counties. In the end, the Denver permanent ERPO was granted, as were all four of the jurisdiction's temporary versions — although two of the latter have already been vacated. Additionally, six temporary ERPOs were granted (the four in Denver and one apiece from Archuleta and Larimer counties), but ones from Larimer and Lincoln counties were denied.
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