DENVER (AP) – When a man accused of stealing his parents’ car barricaded himself inside their home on Sunday, police monitored him, tried negotiating with him and waited. And waited.
But when Jacob Powell, 30, emerged from the home in Greeley on Wednesday afternoon with a rifle and binoculars, police decided it was time to force him out. After tossing in explosive devices, tear gas and sending in robots from the bomb squad, Powell emerged from the home around 3 a.m. Thursday, bringing the five-day standoff to an end without a single gunshot.
The slow, peaceful strategy contrasts with the deadly police shootings that have drawn protests in recent months. Police chief Jerry Garner said it is a decades-old technique that police try to employ in standoffs when there’s no imminent threat to officers or the public. The “time, talk and tactics” approach gives suspects time to calm down, especially if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which Garner said it is a possibility in this case. Garner said Powell made nonsensical comments to police, including saying he was holding Rosa Parks and 30 other people hostage inside. Powell does not have a lawyer listed yet in court records.
“We had some time to try to de-escalate this, and there was nothing to lose if that didn’t happen,” said Garner, who has been in law enforcement for 46 years.
It can be a costly approach. The police presence varied over the course of the standoff. At one point, police hung back, hoping Powell would just leave the house, but some officers kept an eye on the house from afar. Overnight Thursday, there were 30 officers at the standoff, including a SWAT team. Streets were shut down during the ordeal, and the home, including many of its windows, was damaged leading up to the surrender.
Garner said he wouldn’t know how much the standoff had cost the city for at least another week.
Earlier this month, police in Greenwood Village were criticized for ripping open part of a home where a man who had fled police had holed up for about 18 hours in the Denver suburb. A 9-year-old boy was in the home at the time and managed to get out before the suspect fired at police.
The suspect was captured without anyone being hurt, and the city offered to help pay insurance deductibles for the homeowner. Police commander Dustin Varney the suspect was high on methamphetamine and had burrowed himself “like a tick” inside the home.
While Garner said the recent scrutiny of police actions in fatal shootings didn’t motivate his decision to wait out the Greeley suspect, he acknowledged that those cases are on the minds of police chiefs these days, including his.
“We’re not warriors. We’re not soldiers. We’re guardians, and anything that reminds you of that is a good thing,” he said.
– By Colleen Slevin, AP Writer
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