El Paso County coroner reconsiders sealing autopsy reports in deputy’s death

Colorado Springs Independent: El Paso County Coroner Robert Bux might back off from his effort to keep secret autopsy reports of Sheriff’s Deputy Micah Flick and auto theft suspect Manuel Zetina, both killed in the Feb. 5 shootout that also wounded three officers and a passerby.

Bux had said he was asking to stop the release of the public records due to an ongoing investigation and due to Flick’s widow’s grief. Neither of those are legal reasons for withholding the reports, but Bux was trying to argue that together they represented “a substantial injury to the public interest.

That excuse seems odd now given that an investigation into the shooting has been released that details both deaths.

In response to the Independent’s question of whether Bux would proceed, in light of the District Attorney’s report spelling out the injuries to both, Assistant County Attorney Diana May says in an email: Based on a change of circumstances with the conclusion of the investigation, the Coroner’s Office is reassessing whether a substantial injury to the public interest still exists. I hope to have an answer by the end of the day tomorrow [Aug. 24].

The comments come after DA Dan May released his finding on Aug. 21 that the shooting was justified and no officers would be charged with any crimes. It also comes a week after an innocent bystander, Thomas Villanueva, who was paralyzed from the chest down by a bullet fired by Zetina, and his family protested Bux’s attempt to keep the autopsies secret.

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