DA Makes Decision On Vet Accused Of Critically Injuring Alleged Burglar

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – A veteran who put an alleged burglar in a chokehold will not face charges, according to the district attorney’s office.

Army veteran Craig Uehling from Colorado Springs reportedly saw a man trying to break into several cars and homes in his neighborhood in January. Uelhing followed the man and confronted him.

csprings burglar assault 6v567o DA Makes Decision On Vet Accused Of Critically Injuring Alleged Burglar

(credit: CBS)

The man, police identify as Scott Smith, Jr., allegedly punched Uehling and that’s when the veteran put the suspect in a chokehold.

“Mr. Smith struck Mr. Uehling twice in the face with a closed fist, causing pain and injury.  Mr. Uehling prevented him from striking him a third time by putting him in a chokehold to subdue him,” the district attorney’s office said in a statement.

csprings burglar assault 4566vo DA Makes Decision On Vet Accused Of Critically Injuring Alleged Burglar

Scott Smith, Jr. (credit: KKTV)

Smith, Jr., 25, was critically injured.

At the time Uehling said it was self-defense, but Smith’s family disagrees.

“As soon as he swung, it was fight or flight then. And I don’t fly.” Uehling said.

“When you hold somebody long enough to choke him out, that’s one thing. When you hold them long enough to do this, that’s another,” said Smith’s father, Scott Smith, Sr.

csprings burglar assault567 6vo DA Makes Decision On Vet Accused Of Critically Injuring Alleged Burglar

(credit: CBS)

The district attorney’s office said the investigation revealed Smith, Jr. had property from several different vehicles in the area with him.

Statement From The 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office 

Pursuant to Colorado law, a person may defendant himself from what he reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of unlawful physical force if he uses the degree of force which he reasonably believes to be necessary for that purpose.  The person is not required to retreat in order to claim the right to employ force in his defense.  A person may also use reasonable and appropriate physical force upon another person when and to the extent he reasonably believes it necessary to prevent what he reasonably believes is an attempt by the other person to commit theft.  Finally, a private citizen may use reasonable and appropriate physical force upon another person when and to the extent he reasonably believes it necessary to effect an arrest of a person who has committed a crime in his presence. 

In order to charge someone with a crime under these circumstances, the People must be able to disprove these affirmative defenses beyond a reasonable doubt.  Given the fact that Mr. Smith was the first to use physical force, the People do not believe they can meet this burden, and therefore, will not be charging Mr. Uehling with a crime arising from these events. 

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