Police killing of Raymond Garcia justified despite 17 shots fired, 7 hits, DA says
Last month, we reported about the police killing of a "customer" during a prostitution sting in Greeley.
A cropped version of Raymond Garcia's mug shot. More photos and the complete decision letter below.
Now, Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck has released a letter about the incident in which he details why he feels the shooting of the man, 31-year-old Raymond Garcia, was justified. The document, on view below, reveals that Garcia was drawing a weapon and on drugs when cops shot seventeen bullets in his direction, striking him seven times.
On May 21, the letter notes, members of the Greeley Police Department conducted a sting operation in room 107 at the Comfort Inn, 2467 29th Street in Greeley.
The concept called for the posting of online ads supposedly from prostitutes seeking customers, complete with a phone number connecting to undercover detectives. Once initial contact was made, potential customers were texted info about the time and place to rendezvous.
Room 107 was wired with audio and video devices intended to record the interactions between suspects and a female GPD officer posing as a prostitute. Meanwhile, other law enforcers waited in an adjoining room, number 109. Once the customer provided money for sex, the report says the faux-prostitute would say she needed to "freshen up" and step into the bathroom, at which point four other cops, all wearing uniforms, would enter the room and make an arrest.
The Comfort Inn where the sting operation took place, as seen in a Google Maps screen capture.
The letter notes that an officer assigned to take the suspect into custody would enter the room "with no weapon in [his] hands." He'd be followed by a cop with a Taser at the ready should the suspect resist. The next cop wouldn't be holding either a gun or a Taser -- but the last, tasked with providing cover, would have a firearm out and ready to go should the situation go south.
This approach worked four times that day without a problem, the letter maintains. But then, Garcia showed up.
According to the decision letter, Garcia had at least three warrants in his name at the time -- information discovered after the incident went down. One of the warrants was for failing to appear in a protection-order-violation case. Another involved a failure to appear for a motions hearing prompted by charges of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, attempt to influence a public servant and possession of a weapon by a previous offender. And the third, out of Boulder County, accused Garcia of failing to appear at a status conference related to an alleged violation of the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act.
A photo from Raymond Garcia's Facebook page.
At about 5:30 p.m. on the 21st, surveillance cameras watched as Garcia was dropped off at the Comfort Inn. He headed to room 107, carrying what's described as "a black laptop carrying case."
Once he entered the room, Garcia is said to have been concerned the woman before him was a cop. But over the course of fifteen minutes, she apparently convinced him otherwise. He's quoted as mentioning the "use of controlled substances" he'd brought along with him and allegedly offered to sell some of them to the woman after they'd finished having sex.
Finally, at about 5:46 p.m., the decision letter says Garcia produced a $100 bill -- the price upon which he and the undercover officer had agreed. She reacted by excusing herself and heading to the bathroom, at which point her fellow officers entered the room.
Continue for more about the Raymond Garcia shooting, including additional photos and the complete decision letter.