Supporters of man injured in police shootout rally for access to public records

The Gazette (Colorado Springs): Two protests next week will challenge attempts by El Paso County officials to seal autopsy reports for sheriff’s Deputy Micah Flick and suspected car thief Manuel Zetina, who were killed in a gunbattle in February.

The Coroner’s Office petitioned last month to block the records from public release, saying the information contained in the reports “will cause a substantial injury to the public interest” and “cause additional stress and grief” to Flick’s family.

But Flick and Zetina weren’t the only ones impacted by the shooting, protest organizer and shooting witness Michael DeRossett said. Thomas Villanueva, 28, who was described by the Sheriff’s Office as an “innocent bystander,” got caught in the crossfire on his way home from lunch and was paralyzed from the chest down.

DeRossett says Villanueva deserves to know why he wasn’t warned to stay away and who shot him — officers or Zetina?

“Thomas simply needs answers,” DeRossett said. “We demand transparency. What do they have to hide by sealing these records?”

The first protest will be Tuesday outside the El Paso County courthouse, 105 E. Vermijo St. A second protest will follow Wednesday outside the Coroner’s Office, 2741 E. Las Vegas Street.

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