Body camera video of Douglas County shooting shows efforts to calm eventual shooter

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. -- A trove of records released by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Tuesday shed new light on the New Year’s Eve gunfire that left a deputy and his suspected killer dead, and several other law enforcement officers injured.

Sheriff Tony Spurlock released hours of body-worn camera video showing the events leading up to Deputy Zackari Parrish’s killing, the actual gunfire, and the efforts to neutralize accused gunman Matthew Riehl.

The videos show injured deputies coming to each other’s aid. One dramatic clip shows wounded Deputy Taylor Davis breaking a window and jumping from the second-story window to safety.

Another clip shows injured Deputy Mike Doyle requesting a tourniquet for his wounded arm while reassuring fellow deputy Jeff Pelle as they dodged more gunfire and waited for help to arrive.

Another eerie clip shows the interaction between the two men who ultimately died, hours before the violence broke out.

Deputies responded to the apartment at 3 a.m. after Riehl called to report a domestic disturbance involving his roommate.

Riehl is shown in the video, recorded on a camera worn by Deputy Parrish, greeting the deputy at the front door with a smile and explaining, “My roommate freaked out on me.”

Riehl is shown yelling at another deputy but has calm, friendly interactions with Parrish throughout the call. Riehl told Deputy Parrish about his background as a lawyer and a veteran.

Parrish is also heard telling Riehl’s roommate he suspects the man may have mental issues.

“We're going to get out of here. I'm going to try to figure out how to calm him down,” Parrish tells the roommate.

A timeline released Tuesday by the sheriff’s office confirms Riehl called for help again about 90 minutes after the deputies left.

Video shows the deputies returning to the apartment, led by Parrish, who identifies himself at the door. Riehl refused to let them in. Parrish and another deputy stood at the door talking with Riehl for several minutes, then backing off and retreating back down the stairs.

The videos show deputies making entry into the apartment, then repeatedly identifying themselves and prompting Riehl to open the door of his room, clearing several obstacles in their way including an ironing board.

When Parrish kicked in the bedroom door, Riehl immediately began firing. Deputies ran out and realized Parrish was hit. The video shows deputies crawling back in attempting to help Parrish, then being hit with another round of rapid gunfire.

The sheriff’s office also released photos of the weapons recovered from Riehl’s apartment. Investigators believe Riehl used all four weapons during the incident, opening fire at least nine separate times over 90 minutes before he was shot and killed. Investigators say they do not yet know which firearm Riehl used to kill Deputy Parrish.   

Sheriff Tony Spurlock said he has reviewed the body camera video and determined his deputies did nothing wrong, and in retrospect he’s not sure how the violence could have been prevented because it involved a mentally unstable suspect.

 “We never really know how folks are going to react or respond. We went to over 500 mental health calls that our community response team went to and none of those turned violent. This was just like any other of those 500 calls,” Spurlock said.

“There is no easy fix to this, and so law enforcement is doing its very best to deal with him in this ad-hoc emergency situation…and that’s exactly what Deputy Parrish was trying to do,” he added.

Print this article Back to Top