By Kelly Werthmann
HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. (CBS4) – The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office on Monday released body camera video from the deputies who responded to the scene where a deputy was killed on New Year’s Eve.
Deputy Zackari Parrish died inside Copper Canyon Apartments in Highlands Ranch when responding to a call.
Sheriff Tony Spurlock released the edited video in hopes of answering the question, “What happened?”
“There’s a lot of information out there,” Spurlock said in the video.
The department released the video with the permission and support of the Parrish family, as well as those of the four officers who were injured.
The body camera video is from the officers directly involved in the shooting. It shows the compassion officers gave to the gunman and the attempts to rescue Parrish.
Audio of the shots fired by the gunman is included, as are the yells from the officers in the line of fire. It also shows deputies rendering aid to one another.
It’s a difficult video to watch, one that retired Jefferson County SWAT leader Grant Whitus called ‘heartbreaking.’
“It was clearly an ambush that turned from zero to 100 in a fraction of a second,” Whitus told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann.
Whitus was the first SWAT officer into Columbine High School.
After 27 years of law enforcement service, 17 of which was with SWAT, he now trains other officers on responding to unthinkable situations.
“Watching [the Douglas County video] I was very impressed with how they did it,” Whitus said.
The video reveals Deputy Parrish and his team were developing a plan to take Matt Riehl into a mental hold.
“He is going through a manic episode,” Deputy Parrish is heard saying in the video. “We’re going to take him.”
Based on what he saw and heard in the video, Whitus said the four deputies did everything right.
“[Parrish] could obviously see that the person was a danger and decided to put him on that health hold,” Whitus said. “Deputy Parrish did fantastic. He talked to him in a very calm demeanor, which is consisted with his training. So, he did everything that he should’ve done to keep everything calm with someone he believed had mental health issues. They had enough officers there to deal with everything; they just did not see that coming. Mental health is dangerous; you don’t know what’s going to happen next.”
Though the call for help ended tragically, Whitus echoed what Sheriff Spurlock said in the video – the heroic deputies did exactly what they are trained to do.
“I would’ve done the same response they did, not anticipating that [Riehl] was going to do what he did,” Whitus said. “I think they did it absolutely perfectly, and it just went wrong.”
Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team as the morning reporter in 2012. After serving as weekend morning anchor, Kelly is now Covering Colorado First for CBS4 News at 10. Connect with Kelly on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @KellyCBS4.