ROCKY FORD, Colo. (AP) — Investigators say a police officer who killed a man while patrolling a rural Colorado community shot him in the back after stopping him on the street and following him home even though the man wasn't an imminent threat.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation found James Ashby aggressively pursued Jack Jacquez, 27, after stopping him Oct. 12, according to court documents released Thursday.
The bureau's investigation concluded Ashby fatally shot Jacquez even as Jacquez was moving away.
Jacquez was skateboarding on a street when the officer approached him. Ashby said Jacquez cursed at him and walked erratically before heading toward the yard of what turned out to be his house.
Ashby told authorities he suspected Jacquez was trying to burglarize the home. He also said he thought Jacquez was getting ready to strike him with a baseball bat.
However, the officer's account was contradicted by the evidence and a man who was doing a ride-along with him that night, according to Ashby's arrest affidavit.
Ashby was fired after being arrested in the shooting. His lawyer did not return a call seeking comment.
The ride-along witness, Kyle Moore, said Jacquez said something about going home when Ashby stopped him. Jacquez did not use an expletive, Moore said, and he walked straight toward the home after talking with the officer.
Ashby told authorities he was standing near an entrance to Jacquez's house when he shot Jacquez, whom he said was inside the house holding a bat that he grabbed after entering.
The officer said he feared Jacquez was "loading up" to strike him in the head with the bat. However, the autopsy showed Jacquez was fully facing away from Ashby when he was shot, and his body couldn't have been turned in a way to get ready to strike the officer, according to the affidavit.
Moore didn't witness the shooting but said he heard Ashby yelling at Jacquez to show his hands and to drop a bat.
The shooting prompted demonstrations in the city on Colorado's southeastern plains.
Ashby is being prosecuted at a time when police tactics are under review nationwide following the fatal shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri, and the chokehold death of an unarmed man in New York City.
Grand juries declined to charge officers in those cases, but this week two Albuquerque police officers were charged with murder in the shooting death of a knife-wielding homeless man that led to violent protests.