MESA COUNTY, Colo. – The Grand Junction Police Department identified the person killed in an officer-involved shooting that happened just after midnight Friday as a 24-year-old man.
The police department identified said Brian Gaither, 24, of Grand Junction, was killed by Grand Junction Officer Jacob Steele.
Police said Friday they received a call there was a suspicious vehicle near South Ninth Street and Pitkin Avenue. The officer who called in the suspicious vehicle said they believed they knew who the suspect was.
Police say Gaither had two warrants for his arrest when the shooting occurred – one for a parole violation and one stemming from a Nov. 7 traffic stop he allegedly fled. In that stop, police said they saw a weapon in his vehicle; it’s illegal for convicted felons to possess a gun.
A warrant had been obtained for his arrest stemming from that traffic stop on possession of a weapon by a previous offender, obstructing a peace officer and reckless driving charges.
Officer Steele called in backup shortly after calling in the suspicious vehicle, and called out that shots had been fired shortly afterward, police said.
When backup arrived, they found Steele pinned between Gaither’s vehicle and a building wall, and Gaither dead in the driver’s seat of the vehicle.
Grand Junction police said they had to break out a window in order to free Steele. He was taken to a hospital for a leg injury, but has since been released.
Steele started with the department in 2008 and officially became an officer in 2010. He is an instructor for de-escalation and defensive techniques, according to the police department.
He remains on standard administrative leave during the ongoing internal investigation.