Authorities in Colorado released body camera footage Wednesday showing a deputy’s split second reaction to a man coming at him with a rifle.
Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Brad Proulx pulled over to help the driver of a white SUV stopped on the side of the road in Littleton last Friday evening when 25-year-old Deyon Marcus Rivas-Maestas suddenly appeared with a semi-automatic rifle. In an instant, Proulx drew his service weapon and fired two rounds at Rivas-Maestas, hitting him once in the arm.
“This incident occurred very, very quickly,” said Douglas County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Steven Johnson at a press conference Wednesday.
Proulx, a six-year veteran of the department, radioed for backup as Rivas-Maestas ran to the front of the SUV. The deputy, who’d fallen on his back during the encounter, got up and took a few steps toward Rivas-Maestas, who was hunched over a few dozen feet away.
“Get on the ground! Get on the ground! Get on the Ground! Don’t move,” yelled Proulx.
“He would not show his hands. There were repeated commands to show his hands,” said Johnson.
Four minutes after the encounter began, backup arrived, and Rivas-Maestas was taken into custody. He needed surgery for the gunshot wound to his arm, and spent several days in the hospital. He’s been charged with first-degree assault of a peace officer and is being held on $50,000 bond.
The rifle he was holding was not loaded. Proulx was not injured in the incident and is on paid administrative leave while several jurisdictions conduct a use-of-force investigation.
“We’re just so tremendously thankful that he wasn’t injured or killed during this incident,” said Littleton Police Chief Doug Stevens. “He did a tremendous job.”
After being shot, Rivas-Maestas asked Proulx “what are you waiting for?” At Wednesday’s press conference, a reporter asked whether the incident was an attempted suicide-by-cop. Johnson and Stevens wouldn’t speculate, but repeatedly praised the deputy’s conduct during the incident.
“It’s gut-wrenching and it’s very, very hard to watch,” said Johnson of the body camera video. “It’s nothing short of amazing — his reaction time, the defense of himself, the defense of the community from this individual and whatever this individual had planned.”
“The deputy kept calm, kept the presence of mind, and did everything that he could,” he said.
Stevens said Proulx’s handling of the incident shines a light on the role officers play in society.
“There’s a lot of debate on the national stage about guardian versus warrior for law enforcement,” Stevens said. “This is a tremendous example of…we’re both. We’re both at all times. So here you have a guardian in the community, stopping to help someone in need, who had to transition to warrior like that to defend himself and the community from a violent attack.”