The Douglas County Sheriff has released body camera footage of the fatal ambush on deputies on New Year’s Eve, with the approval of the fallen deputy’s family and that of the law enforcement officers who were shot that morning.
In total, two citizens, a Castle Rock PD SWAT officer, and four Douglas County deputies were shot. Deputy Zackari Parrish died at the scene in the Copper Canyon Apartments.
Deputies first visited the scene at 3:00 a.m. responding to a noise complaint call. In the video, a deputy can be heard talking to the shooter, Matthew Riehl, and trying to calm him while assessing the situation.
“We’re here because we want to make sure you’re okay,” a deputy is heard saying. “Do me a favor next time, if you ever call us, try not to scream.”
Deputies were called again to the apartment complex at 5:17 a.m. on a domestic disturbance call, but later classified it as a mental health call.
Deputy Parrish can be heard on the audio talking to Riehl on the second call, saying “Hey Matt, it’s Zack. Yes we can help you, I’m with the sheriff’s office. Right here man. We can talk out here. I just want to make sure you’re okay.”
After some discussion with Riehl deputies accurately assessed that he was going through a manic episode and that they were going to take him in on a mental health hold. As they were discussing the situation and plan of action when Riehl opened fire at approximately 5:37 a.m.
Deputy Parrish was in the doorway and was fatally struck by the gunfire. 3 other deputies on scene were also shot.
Deputy Taylor Davis went out a window, head first, while deputies Pelle and Doyle escaped out of the front, before trying to re-enter. They were unable to enter due to the gunfire they were encountering.
The injured deputies then called for backup and when they went back in to get Deputy Parrish, Riehl was shot and killed.
Too often, law enforcement officers are the first line of contact when the mentally ill suffer violent episodes and therefore necessarily become de-facto mental health professionals. It’s part of the job, but perhaps it’s time for a fresh look on how the country, as a whole, is addressing the way it cares for those suffering from mental health problems.