By Brian Maass
(CBS4) – The Arapahoe County District Attorney has ruled an Elbert County Sheriff’s deputy was justified in using his taser on a man who ultimately died in part due to the taser shock.
The ruling Wednesday relates to the April 12, 2018, death of Christopher Matthew Poer, 46, a former Green Beret.
“Mr. Poer was armed with a handgun at the time of his arrest, was actively resisting arrest , and was suspected of felony menacing and other erratic and criminal behavior, including multiple shots fired at approximately the same time as the arrival of Elbert County Deputies,” wrote Chief Deputy District Attorney Elizabeth Oldham , in clearing Deputy Christopher Dickey of any wrongdoing.”I find that Deputy Dickey acted appropriately when he used the Taser device on Mr. Poer…,” wrote Oldham.
According to the seven page clearance letter, and an earlier CBS4 investigation of the incident, Poer had been acting erratically earlier that night believing he was being watched and recorded by unnamed people. The prosecutor who wrote the report said Poer was “delusional, erratic, and bizarre.”
He obtained the loaded .380 handgun of a friend. Poer then wandered on to a neighboring property and was firing the handgun, according to witness accounts.
When Elbert County deputies arrived, they said Poer was lying on his back in a field. They say when they approached, Poer rolled on his side and faced the deputies.
Deputies yelled repeated commands for Poer to show his hands but they say he did not comply. Deputies involved “later stated that they felt that Mr. Poer was trying to make the deputies shoot him,” according to the DA’s report.
The lawmen say they saw the gun at Poer’s feet and one deputy picked it up.
But they say Poer continued to struggle and would not show his hands. Deputies articulated that they were concerned he had another gun but could not handcuff Poer due to “active resistance.” Deputy Dickey then tased Poer in the back and leg.
In short order, Deputies observed that Poer did not have a pulse. Less than an hour later he was pronounced dead.
The coroner ruled the cause of death was associated with amphetamine intoxication, heart problems and “Taser deployment.”
The D.A.’s report goes on to say the risk of death from a Taser-like device is minimal “and it is reasonable to conclude that CED’s(Tasers) do not cause or contribute to death in the large majority of those case.”
Oldham writes that Deputy Dickey was justified in using his Taser on Poer since Poer had a gun, had pointed it at someone, been firing it, resisted arrest and disregarded police instructions.
“Mr. Poer had consumed a toxic- lethal level of amphetamines and the use of the Taser, combined with his drug consumption and health issues, caused his death,” wrote the prosecutor.
Poer’s family previously told CBS4 he had PTSD from his military service.
“After he came back from Iraq, we did notice a change in Matt,” said his mother, Sherry. They said Poer had come to Colorado to get a service dog.His mother said Matt Poer had two children.
Sherry Poer previously told CBS4, “You do not Taser an unarmed man. This not making sense, this is not adding up.”
She said her son was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in August.