Law enforcement experts call for more transparency in deputy’s death in shootout

The Gazette (Colorado Springs): Local law enforcement agencies have released hundreds of pages of reports describing how El Paso County sheriff’s Deputy Micah Flick was killed in the Feb. 5 shootout with suspected car thief and gang member Manuel Zetina, but key questions remain unanswered.

Among them: Was the Beat Auto Theft Through Law Enforcement task force uniformly trained on how best to arrest felony offenders? Were appropriate tactics used? How was a bystander allowed to wander into the shooting zone? And are there changes the task force should make to prevent similar tragedies?

It’s unlikely these questions will be answered publicly by the three agencies involved in the task force — the Colorado Springs Police Department, El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and Colorado State Patrol. All have declined to respond to such queries, citing the potential for lawsuits. The agencies say they are analyzing the shooting internally, but are not likely to share with the public determinations they make about “what was right and what was wrong.”

But the gravity of the case in which an officer was killed, two officers were seriously wounded, the suspect was killed, and a civilian was shot and left paralyzed from the waist down calls for such transparency, said three law enforcement experts consulted by The Gazette.

They say the public is entitled to know how the agencies plan to better defend their officers and civilians.

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