Was Attorney/Poker Pro Dana Ott Police Shooting an Overzealous Mistake?

Colorado Springs' Dana Ott is an attorney and sometime professional poker player who earned well over $300,000 at a single tournament a couple of years back.

Right now, however, he's fighting for his life after being shot by authorities, who were called after he was seen carrying a rifle.

Was the shooting simply a terrible mistake? That's a theory of John Carraway, an Ott neighbor who thinks the response could have been an effort on the part of law-enforcement not to repeat the errors made in the case of triple-murderer Noah Harpham.

As we've reported, a Springs resident called police earlier this month after seeing Harpham walking around with a rifle. However, the 911 dispatcher reminded her that it's legal to carry such a weapon due to open carry laws and didn't make responding to the call the highest priority. Approximately ten minutes later, Harpham began shooting random people, taking three lives before dying in a gun battle with police.

Ott certainly seems to be an unlikely person to have precipitated a police showdown.

As noted by the Colorado Springs Independent, Ott registered to practice law in Colorado circa 2012, but he doesn't appear to be doing so currently. Ott neighbor Carraway, speaking to KRDO, refers to him as retired.

Online, Ott's biggest footprint is as a poker player.

He has pages on several poker websites, including The Herndon Mob, which touts itself as "the largest live poker database."

The Herndon Mob lists Ott as placing 1,954th on its all-time money list and 27th in Colorado, with total winnings of $394,866.

Most of that sum was earned during a single event: The World Series of Poker's No Limit Hold'em Seniors Championship in Las Vegas in June 2013.

Ott earned $390,601 for placing second in the contest, which was described as "the largest seniors championship in history."

Two years later, Ott is back in the news for very different reasons.

At 5:13 p.m. on Tuesday, November 10, according to a news release from the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, the Colorado Springs Police Department received a call for service at the 5100 block of Lanagan Street.

The report: a disturbance.

KRDO adds that neighbors said a man, later identified as Ott, was "carrying a rifle and making threats."

Upon their arrival, "officers encountered an armed suspect who was approaching them and shots were fired," the EPCSO release continues.

Ott was struck in the incident. He was subsequently rushed to a nearby hospital; at least report, he remained in critical condition.

We won't get answers about what specifically led to the shooting from on-scene video. The EPCSO confirms that members of the Colorado Springs Police Department aren't equipped with body cameras, and the vehicle of the two officers involved in the shooting didn't have a camera, either.

But Carraway, Ott's neighbor, fears the whole thing could have been an overreaction.

He says Ott used an air soft rifle to scare coyotes away from his property, which is located near the intersection of Flying W. Ranch Road and North 30th Street.

Seeing Ott with a rifle may have stirred memories of Harpham in both callers and the officers who responded, Carraway believes.

"The shooting that happened a couple weeks ago has got people on edge. And I think this is a result of that. People are more on edge than they would be otherwise. This might have not been a big deal otherwise," Carraway said in his KRDO interview.

He stressed that Ott is a great neighbor, adding, "I'm just afraid it was a very bad mistake."

If and when Ott recovers, we should learn definitively if that's the case.

Look below to see the aforementioned KRDO report.

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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