Pueblo Officer Cleared In Shooting

The district attorney’s investigation into an officer involved shooting in Pueblo has been completed, and has ruled the officer was justified in using deadly force against a man with a BB gun in August.

District Attorney Bill Thiebaut compiled the report after reviewing the investigations by the Pueblo Police Department, the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office, Colorado State Patrol and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. In his report, Thiebaut concluded that the actions of Pueblo Police Officer Brian Laut were justified, and that there was “not a reasonable likelihood or probability that Laut committed a chargeable offense.”

The shooting took place shortly before 7 a.m. on August 29, 2012. Pueblo police received reports of a man shooting out car windows with a gun. At the time of the call, there was speculation that the gun may have been a paintball gun. That suspect was later identified as 21-year-old Edward Valdez III.

According to the district attorney’s report, Laut was one of the officers who responded to the call. Laut saw a man on a bicycle that matched the description of the suspect. When Laut attempted to stop the man, Valdez took off across an intersection and into the dirt lot behind Toni and Joe’s Pizzeria on Columbia Avenue.

Laut watched as Valdez crashed into a cement slab behind the business. Laut pulled his patrol car behind the pizzeria and got out to cuff and help the suspect. As Laut approached the man, he told investigators Valdez stood up, reached into his pocket and pulled what Laut described as a 1911 semi-automatic handgun and pointed it at Laut. As the officer backed away from the man, Valdez started shooting at the officer, striking him in the head. Laut returned fire, killing the Valdez.

Thiebaut says that the physical evidence matched the eyewitness accounts of the shooting. Video from Laut’s patrol car collaborate Laut’s report of the shooting.

Laut was placed on administrative leave while the agencies conducted their investigation. On December 13th, Laut received a Medal of Valor for his action in the August shooting.