A sergeant with the Elbert County Sheriff’s Office who shot an unarmed suspect, who was hiding in an enclosed truck box covered with a tarp, will not face criminal charges, according to investigators.
Sgt. Mike Skalisky, on March 18, 2021, was startled by the hiding suspect when he pulled the tarp back and one shot was fired unintentionally, according to a review of the shooting by the Elbert County District Attorney’s Office.
The suspect, whose name was redacted in the review letter, had fled an attempted traffic stop for allegedly speeding and drove into the Kiowa Industrial Park in the 9000 block of Colorado 86, fleeing on foot and hiding in the box — about the size of dog kennel — according to the review.
Skalisky, searching for the suspect by following footprints on the snow-covered ground, called out several times, identifying himself as being with the sheriff’s office and for the suspect to “come out” and make himself known, the review said. There was no response.
When Skalisky pulled back the tarp the suspect, who was in a fetal position, moved and Skalisky “jumped back with both hands clenched, his weapon discharged one round.”
Skalisky “did not intend to shoot” the suspect, according to the review letter. He described the shot “as an involuntary or ‘sympathetic discharge’ resulting from simultaneously clenching and pulling the tarp with his left hand while holding his duty weapon in his right hand.”
The suspect, who made “no threatening movement,” was shot in the abdomen. He was treated on scene and taken to a local hospital where he underwent surgery. He was released the next day.
Skalisky has been with the sheriff’s office since June of 2014 and was promoted to sergeant in 2019. The handgun fired was a 9mm Glock 34, issued to him by the sheriff’s office.
“The question here is not so much the appropriate voluntary use of force but the criminal ramifications of an unintended, accidental discharge of a firearm,” the letter said. “In light of the insufficient evidence for a likelihood of conviction beyond a reasonable doubt, and the inability to prove that this shooting was the product a conscious voluntary act or even to establish the least culpable of mental states, charges are not warranted based on the evidence.
“There is not a reasonable likelihood of success at trial and, therefore, no criminal charges are recommended.”
The review letter, dated July 2, was addressed to Sheriff Tim Norton, and Undersheriff Dave Fisher. It was signed by Chief Deputy District Attorney Ann B. Tomsic.
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