Delta County, CO – The district attorney ruled that the Delta County sheriff’s deputy who shot a woman driving at him in April was justified, and released bodycam video of the incident (video below).
Delta County District Attorney Seth Ryan said the incident occurred on April 9 when a deputy tried to stop a car driven by 26-year-old Paige Schmidt Pierce for driving without license plates on Highway 92 near Hotchkiss, the Montrose Press reported.
Ryan said Pierce fled, nearly running over a highway worker in the process, and passed a column of cars that were in the no passing zone in an effort to get away.
Deputies successfully deflated Pierce’s tires with stop sticks and she pulled the vehicle onto private property at High County Gardens, KKTV reported.
Delta County Sheriff’s Deputy Nolan Davis, who had a pre-approved civilian ride-along in his vehicle at the time, pulled into the private drive behind Pierce and jumped out of his vehicle.
Ryan said Deputy Davis was expecting to engage in a foot pursuit with the driver, the Montrose Press reported.
But Pierce turned her vehicle around and drove directly at the officer.
The deputy’s bodycam video showed there was scarcely enough room between Deputy Davis’s truck and another pickup truck on the opposite side of the drive for Pierce to squeeze through.
But instead of stopping, Pierce slammed on the gas and barreled through, nearly running officer the deputy.
Bodycam video showed Deputy Davis opened fire at the oncoming car and fired multiple times.
The district attorney said the car came so close to taking out the deputy and his patrol vehicle that the civilian inside Deputy Davis’ truck braced for the impact, the Montrose Press reported.
“About to hit me, Sarge. I had no choice,” Deputy Davis said in the video right after the shooting.
A witness told investigators it had looked like Pierce was “shooting the gap” between the trucks to run over the deputy when she clearly could have gone around them.
“The evidence supports that as Davis was getting out of his vehicle, Paige attempted to drive unimpeded and at a relatively high speed between Davis and M.D.’s truck, directly at Davis, and only veering away from him as he opened fire,” the conclusion of report read, according to KKTV. “The evidence supports that from the time he opened his door and got out of his truck, Paige traveled 38.8 feet in 1.8 seconds and that she could have stopped her vehicle before reaching him.”
“Her trajectory fairly straight on toward Deputy Davis until the approximate time he opened fire on her,” the district attorney said.
Ryan said Deputy Davis continued to fire his weapon at Pierce because he thought she might turn the wheel and smash him against his truck, the Montrose Press reported.
A witness told CSP investigators that it had looked like Pierce was about to run over the deputy.
The district attorney said that he couldn’t prove Deputy Davis hadn’t fired at Pierce in self-defense and said his office wouldn’t bring criminal charges against the deputy for the fatal shooting, the Montrose Press reported.
“Given the evidence, the People cannot disprove beyond a reasonable doubt that Davis was acting in Self-Defense, and the District Attorney cannot file criminal charges against Deputy Nolan Davis,” Ryan’s report read.
Family and friends protested the district attorney’s decision, the Montrose Press reported.
“It did not have to happen,” one of Pierce’s family members said, pointing out that deputies didn’t always pursue suspects. “She just didn’t have plates and she was afraid.”
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. WARNING – Graphic Content: