Family Of Man Shot And Killed By Police Speaks Out

From left: Cpl. Stage, Brandon Atencio (Credit: Canon City Police Department)
By  | 

For the second time in less than a week, investigators in Canon City are dealing with an officer-involved shooting.

In both cases, the city's police department says the officers were attacked, and fired their weapons to defend themselves.

The latest shooting happened Thursday morning on North Orchard Street. The suspect involved has been identified as 28-year-old parolee Brandon Atencio. Atencio did not survive the shooting.

Atencio was out on parole from a previous felony charge of assaulting a police officer out of Teller County.

Atencio's fatal run-in with police Thursday started a few blocks from where he eventually encountered them.

Corporal Charles Stage and an officer in-training, Thomas Gautreaux, were called to East Main Street just before 9 a.m. on reports of a man threatening his family with a knife.

The man took off by the time police arrived, but the two officers caught up with him a few blocks away on North Orchard.

Police say the man, identified as Atencio, at first tried to run away. Stage and Gautreaux chased him down the residential street. Suddenly, the chase took a deadly turn.

"He dropped down on his knees, he took out [a] box cutter, placed it to his throat and began to cut his throat," said Canon City Police Chief Paul Schultz.

In a media conference on Friday, Schultz defended Cpl. Stage claiming Stage was trying to talk Atencio out of it.

"As [Atencio] stood up, he yelled an expletive, 'Eff this' and started to charge towards Corporal Stage with the box cutter," said Schultz.

Stage shot his firearm an unknown amount of times and hit Atencio twice in the chest.

Atencio was taken to St. Thomas More Hospital, where he later died.

Schultz said he did not believe there was time for Stage to use his taser.

"A taser doesn't always work. If Corporal Stage would have used a taser ... had time to deploy it and it didn't work, Corporal Stage ran the risk of being seriously injured or killed," he said.

Both Stage and Gautreaux are on paid administrative leave during the investigation, which is routine.

Leslie Taylor was the last family member of Atencio's to see him alive.

She told 11 News that initial police reports are painting the wrong picture of her brother-in-law.

"It's hard to believe that he's not going to be here anymore," she said.

To her, Atencio wasn't the type of person who would hurt anyone.

Taylor said Atencio was a great father to his 10-year-old son and a loving uncle to her little girl.

"He kissed my daughter goodbye to send her on the bus, and we sat there for a while and he just left," said Taylor.

She told 11 News she thinks the police report claiming he was threatening family members is wrong.

"He didn't make any threatening comments towards me, he didn't hold a knife to me, nothing," Taylor said.

Taylor said it was another family member who initially called police, but wouldn't say why they called.

"I asked him if he was going to hurt me and he said, 'No,' and that was it, and he didn't," she said.

While the investigation continues, Taylor says the family is still questioning some of the important details.

"We understand they were just doing their job, but if [Atencio] was defenseless and had no weapon and they shot him for no reason, we're all trying to figure that out," she said.

She told 11 News that Atencio did get a box cutter from her house, but insisted he wasn't threatening her with it.

Thursday's shooting marks the third officer-involved shooting for the Canon City Police Department this year, and the second in a week. It's unprecedented for the department, which says it typically sees one case every 12 years on average.

The first officer-involved shooting happened on New Year's Day after a high-speed chase.

Then on Dec. 6, a 32-year-old man was shot by Cañon City officers after allegedly stabbing a police officer.

In both cases, the suspect survived.

Police officials say about 10 percent of the police workforce is now out of the office between the three officers who are on leave while the two most recent shootings are investigated.

11 News asked if the police department would consider putting body cameras on their officers. Police Chief Schultz said it was something that has already been in the works and every officer will have one starting in 2015.