Grand Jury clears Sheriff Schroetlin in shooting incident
A Grand Jury has cleared Sheriff Brett Schroetlin of any wrongdoing regarding his shooting of burglary suspect Connor MacLaird on Sept. 15 in Tabernash.
“I appreciate the time the Grand Jury took in thoroughly examining this case and also am honored by the outpouring of support I have received from the community during my first year as Sheriff,” stated Sheriff Schroetlin after his clearance on the shooting was announced.
“People always want to hear from their elected officials,” he continued. “So it has been difficult not to speak about this for the past several weeks since I was directly involved.”
Sheriff Schroetlin went on to explain that in any officer involved shooting incident specific processes are in place to maintain transparency regarding the investigation. “We followed best practices with this case by immediately requesting an outside investigation and then allowing the process to unfold as it did.”
A press release issued by the 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office on Thursday evening Nov. 12 states, “Sheriff Schroetlin committed no criminal conduct in the September 15, 2015 incident in Tabernash, Colorado, where he shot Connor James MacLaird as Mr. MacLaird allegedly rushed him with a knife.”
In that same press release 14th Judicial District Attorney Brett Barkey stated, “I referred this matter to our Grand Jury to ensure that our community, through its representatives on the Grand Jury, participated in decisions about this incident. The Grand Jury concluded that Sheriff Schroetlin was legally justified in his actions and that there was probable cause to bring charges against Mr. MacLaird.”
Along with the clearance of Sheriff Schroetlin the Grand Jury also returned four indictments charging MacLaird with crimes related to the Sept. 15 incident. MacLaird has been formally charged with: assault in the first degree on a peace officer, a class 3 felony; second degree burglary, a class 4 felony; theft, a class 2 misdemeanor and criminal mischief, a class 3 misdemeanor. MacLaird is still being held at the Jefferson County Jail where he was taken into custody last month on an unrelated warrant out of Texas.
Sheriff Schroetlin along with additional deputies from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office and an officer from the Fraser/Winter Park Police Dept. were in the Tabernash area in the early morning hours of Sept. 15 following reports of a burglary at the Snooty Coyote Liquor Store in Tabernash.
Law enforcement was called to the Snooty Coyote for a reported burglary at 1:26 a.m. on Sept. 15. According to an affidavit from the case initial on scene investigations revealed the Snooty Coyote Liquor Store had been broken into in an apparent “smash and grab” type burglary. The party that initially reported the burglary informed officers the suspect left the Snooty Coyote riding a bicycle.
Sheriff Schroetlin was on scene that morning with his personal K9 unit assisting in the search for the suspect, later identified as MacLaird.
On nearby County Road 523 officers discovered an abandoned bicycle with blood on it. Through cursory investigations of the area officers located blood outside the Fireside Inn, a motel in Tabernash approximately 200 yards away from the Snooty Coyote. Further investigations revealed blood outside Unit 2 of the motel and a duffle bag behind the motel that, according to the affidavit, appeared to have blood on it and contained what officers believed to be liquor bottles. The officers knocked on the door of Unit 2 but received no response.
After determining exigent circumstances existed to enter Unit 2 of the Fireside Inn officers forced entry into the unit with Sheriff Schroetlin leading the way through the door. According to the affidavit Sheriff Schroetlin observed MacLaird holding a large knife in a threatening manner and MacLaird was advancing towards Schroetlin. Schroetlin ordered MacLaird to drop the knife two times. The affidavit states, “the male party did not comply and continued advancing towards Sheriff Schroetlin with the knife raised in his hand. Sheriff Schroetlin made the decision to fire his duty firearm at the male party striking the male party multiple times.”
MacLaird was airlifted to St. Anthony’s Hospital in Lakewood Colorado where he was treated for his wounds. He was taken into custody by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office on Oct. 4.
The charges against MacLaird are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
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