Pueblo County, CO – The family of a man who was fatally shot by a Colorado deputy while waiting in the carpool line for his brother last year has released bodycam video and filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the law enforcement officers (video below).
The incident occurred on Feb. 22, 2022 when 32-year-old Richard Ward went with his mother and her boyfriend to pick up his younger brother at Liberty Point International Middle School in Pueblo West, according to The Washington Post.
Pueblo County sheriff’s deputies responded to 911 calls from other parents in the carpool line who said Ward had been trying to get into their vehicles and pounding on them.
Bodycam video showed Ward opened the back door of his mother’s white Lexus SUV when the deputies approached the vehicle.
Ward told deputies he was “just looking for my little brother” but then struggled to name the younger sibling, the video showed.
His mother volunteered from the front seat that her son had more than one brother.
“I’m just messing with you. I’m just messing with you man,” Ward told the deputies in the video.
But he took exception when the deputy touched his arm and then Ward told the deputies that he had had problems with law enforcement in the past.
The deputy suggested that his problems must have been with a police department and not the sheriff’s department, the video showed.
“Who did I disrupt by trying to get my brother?” Ward asked.
Pueblo County Sheriff’s Deputy Charles McWhorter explained they had received complaints that he was trying to get into other vehicles, the video showed.
Ward said he had mistaken another vehicle for his mother’s SUV and had banged on it, but that after he realized he had the wrong vehicle, he apologized to that driver.
When the deputy asked Ward for his identification and if he had any weapons, the man started digging around in his pockets and reaching around in the vehicle.
He showed the deputy some cigarette lighters he removed from his pants pocket and then turned as if to set them down on the car seat and popped a pill in his mouth, the video showed.
The deputy saw what happened and immediately grabbed the suspect and began pulling him from the SUV.
“What’d you just stick in your mouth?” the deputy asked.
“It was a pill. It was a pill! Let me go,” Ward screamed as he was pulled from the SUV.
Bodycam video showed Ward struggled with Deputy McWhorter and refused to be taken into custody.
The deputy’s bodycam fell off during the altercation but the struggle was captured on video by Pueblo County Sheriff’s Deputy Cassandra Gonzales’ body-worn camera, The Denver Post reported.
Ward went to the ground with Deputy McWhorter and then Ward got on top of the deputy who repeatedly yelled at him to “stop resisting.”
Then three gunshots are heard in the video.
“What happened? What happened?” Ward’s mother, Kristy Ward Stamp, shrieked from the front seat of the vehicle.
Deputy McWhorter immediately disengaged from Ward and stood up, pointing his duty weapon at the suspect on the ground.
Bodycam video showed Ward rolled himself onto his back and flopped there.
“Did they just shoot him? Did you guys shoot him?” Stamp’s boyfriend asked from the driver’s seat.
“Is my son shot?” Stamp asked.
Then Ward’s mother tried to get out of the car but Deputy McWhorter told her to stay in the vehicle, the video showed.
Stamp’s boyfriend began demanding the deputy’s name and badge number.
“Hold on real quick,” Deputy Gonzales told him. “Just let us figure out what’s going on, okay?”
Bodycam video showed Deputy McWhorter told Deputy Gonzales that Ward had “tried to grab my stuff.”
When the ambulance arrived on the scene less than five minutes later, Ward was already dead, The Washington Post reported.
Bodycam video showed that neither deputy took any life-saving measures or tried to provide first aid to the wounded suspect after Deputy McWhorter shot him, The Denver Post reported.
The fatal shooting was investigated and in October of 2022, Tenth Judicial District Attorney Jeff Chostner announced his decision not to charge either of the deputies involved in the incident.
Chostner said he found the lethal use-of-force by Deputy McWhorter justifiable because he feared for his life and acted reasonably, The Denver Post reported.
The prosecutor explained in a letter that Deputy McWhorter had told investigators that Ward was grabbing his duty belt and he was afraid the suspect would get his gun.
Ward’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Deputy McWhorter and six other law enforcement officers whom the complaint alleges unlawfully detained Stamp and her boyfriend after her son was killed, The Washington Post reported.
“This was nothing short of state-sanctioned murder of a citizen who should not have been even arrested, let alone killed in broad daylight,” Darold Killmer, an attorney for Ward’s family, said in a statement when the lawsuit was filed.
The complaint alleged that Deputies McWhorter and Gonzales “recklessly and deliberately escalated the situation” throughout the encounter with Ward, The Washington Post reported.
Both Deputies McWhorter and Gonzales remain employed by the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office.
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. WARNING – Graphic Content and Obscene Language:
⚠️ Warning Unsettling Footage ⚠️
Bodycam footage released of a CO Deputy fatally shooting an unarmed man while picking up his brother from school. because he took an anti-anxiety pill.
Deputies gave no warnings or commands before pulling him out of the car violently. pic.twitter.com/x2bVeRPPoj
— ChudsOfTikTok (@ChudsOfTikTok) February 23, 2023