Family questions delay in medical aid for man shot by police

Feb 28, 2023, 12:21 AM | Updated: 3:20 pm

DENVER (AP) — The family of Colorado man fatally shot by police is questioning why it took so long to provide medical help to him as he lay slumped on the ground near a fence.

Newly released body camera and surveillance footage of the Feb. 2 incident that took place earlier this month has audio of someone yelling “Don’t shoot” seconds before an officer opens fire on Stephen Poolson in suburban Denver.

It is difficult to see what Poolson, 41, is doing right before he is shot at an apartment building in Littleton, but his sister, Shannon Wicker, said she believes her brother shouted to stop the officer from shooting.

“Hearing my brother’s last words ‘Don’t shoot’ has broken me,” she said in a statement to KUSA-TV, which obtained the video footage from her ahead of its public release late Monday. “De-escalation of situation — not escalation — should be the primary focus of police interaction. Police are to preserve life, not destroy it.”

She told the station she released the video because it raises more questions than it answers and she wants to know why it took so long for police to render aid to her brother — about five minutes after the shooting, according to the video.

In their initial account of the shooting, police said Poolson “produced a gun” before he was shot.

In the video, the officer, with his gun still pointed on the wounded Poolson, radios that two other suspects fled into the building’s basement as he asks for more officers to come help him. A dark object can be seen next to the fence a few feet away from Poolson. The officer who shot him points it out as the gun when another officer arrives. The officer who shot him then asks the newly arrived officer to watch Poolson as he leaves to get his medical equipment.

Officers carry first aid bags in their patrol cars but are not supposed to render medical aid until a scene is considered safe, according to department policy.

The shooting is being investigated by a team of outside agencies led by the district attorney’s office, a standard practice in shootings involving police. A spokesperson for the Littleton Police Department, Sheera Poelman, said she could not release any other details about what happened until the investigation is finished.

The initial police statement on the overnight shooting, released about 2 1/2 hours later, said that the officer opened fire after Poolson crashed his motorcycle and ran. The department had to later correct their statement after surveillance video obtained by KUSA-TV showed that the police officer knocked Poolson off his motorcycle by hitting it at slow speed, leading to the foot chase and shooting.

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Family questions delay in medical aid for man shot by police