Staff Report

Police officers in Gunnison shot and killed a Lakewood man who is reported to have driven away from them in a stolen vehicle, striking several parked cars in the process, and dragging an officer.

Gerry Donald Cooper, 44, died at the scene Nov. 11, according to a Gunnison Police Department news release issued Friday, Nov. 12.

The officers who fired on Cooper — who have not been named — have been placed on leave pending an investigation, as is standard procedure following officer use of force.

“We have experienced a tragic event within our city. My heart goes out to everyone impacted,” Gunnison Mayor Jim Gelwicks said, in a provided statement. “It will take time for the entire incident to be reviewed. Please rely on factual information rather than rumors.”

At 11:05 p.m. Thursday, Gunnison Police Department officers responded to the Garden Walk Apartments on North Colorado Street upon reports that a person was parked in the loot and sleeping in his vehicle. When officers ran the plate number the reporting party provided, the vehicle came back as stolen.

The GPD says that when officers arrived, the person in the vehicle failed to comply with commands and instead drove off, hitting multiple parked vehicles, including two GPD patrol units.

“During this time an officer with the Gunnison Police Department was dragged by the suspect vehicle,” the news release states. “Officer(s) fired shots at the driver striking him.”

The man, later identified as Cooper, died at the scene. One officer was taken to the hospital and later was released.

The 7th Judicial District Critical Incident Team is investigating the use of force; this process can take several months. The team is made up of officers from agencies within the district, which encompasses Gunnison, Montrose, Hinsdale, Delta, Ouray and San Miguel counties.

In its news release, the GPD thanked community members who provided information about the incident, as well as members of the critical incident team.

“We understand that this incident can impact an entire community,” the GPD said, referring those who need confidential crisis support for any reason to Colorado Crisis Services at 844-493-TALK (8255).

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