DENVER – Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock on Monday released a video of selectively-edited body camera footage from the night Deputy Zackari Parrish and four other officers were shot by a man with a history of mental health issues.
The beginning of the video says that “every effort has been made to be sensitive to the families and members of our community impacted by this tragedy.” It contains short portions of body camera videos from the deputies at the scene on New Year’s Eve, when 36-year-old Matthew Riehl opened fire after deputies were called to his apartment on two different occasions.
Throughout the video, Spurlock narrates as clips of audio and video from the body cameras plays.
“There’s a lot of information out there, and I’d like you to hear from me about what happened,” Spurlock says.
He notes, in the video, that officers from various agencies had prior contact with Riehl, and that Parrish was called to Riehl’s apartment twice in the early-morning hours of New Year’s Eve before he was shot and killed.
“It’s very clear that Deputy Zack Parrish was doing exactly what the community response team was doing, and that was trying to provide [Riehl] some assistance,” Spurlock says in the video. “It was clear [Riefl] was in need of it, and we were trying to give it to him.”
Though the sheriff’s office has so far released few details about the events that led up to the shooting, including why four deputies and a Castle Rock police officer were approaching the armed Riehl’s apartment, Spurlock explains what he says happened.
He says deputies were initially called to the apartment at Copper Canyon around 3 a.m. on a noise complaint.
“They determined that there was no crime that had been committed, and they talked to the parties that were involved,” Spurlock says.
The video then shows body camera video of a deputy saying to Riehl: “We’re here because we want to make sure you’re OK. Do me a favor though, Matt, and next time, if you ever call us, try not to scream.”
Spurlock then goes to 5:17 a.m., saying another domestic disturbance call brought deputies to Riehl’s apartment again.
“Quickly they learned that this wasn’t a domestic disturbance call; this was really a mental health call,” Spurlock says. The video then shows audio of Parrish saying to Riehl: “Hey Matt, it’s Zack…I just want to make sure you’re OK.”
It then shows one deputy saying, “He’s going through a manic episode,” and saying they were calling for a mental health evaluation. Spurlock’s narration then begins again: “From the times between 5:35 and 5:57, the deputies were developing a plan to provide some medical aid and some mental health aid to this citizen, and at 5:57 this is what took place.”
The video then shows a large burst of gunfire, after which Spurlock says that was the moment Parrish was and killed, and other deputies and the officer were shot as well.
It shows two of the deputies who had been shot giving aid to one another, and cuts to several deputies calling for Parrish, then exchanging more gunfire with Riehl.
Spurlock then says that a rescue mission for Parrish was put together at 7:30 a.m., which is when Parrish was brought out of the apartment doorway where he’d been killed, and when Riehl was also shot and killed by deputies at the scene.
Spurlock goes on to say he’s “very proud” of the deputies and officers who worked the scene that night, saying, “They did exactly what they were trained to do…and unfortunately, it turned violent.”
Spurlock continues by saying: “We are committed to do whatever we can to the mental health issues in this county and whatever we can do anywhere in this state.”
Spurlock thanked the Douglas County and law enforcement communities in the video, then thanked the other deputies and officer who were wounded in the shooting: “Your heroism and your honor will never be forgotten.”
Spurlock ended the video with a message to the community for their outpouring of support for Parrish: “Lastly, I am very proud of the men and women of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, and I am grateful to every law enforcement agency that provided assistance to us and continues to support us through this tragedy. May God bless Zack Parrish. God bless the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and our Douglas County community. Live life like Zack Parrish.”
Sheriff Spurlock is expected to speak with Denver7 further about the incident in an interview scheduled for Tuesday.