LINCOLN COUNTY, Colorado — A Lincoln County deputy who nearly died when he was ambushed and shot by a man after responding to a trespassing call near a truck stop earlier this year was justified in returning fire, according to the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office, which reviewed the case.
The suspect, identified as Tristan Ensinger, was later found dead in a nearby field from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He had been wanted in connection with a murder days earlier in Ohio.
Just after 3 a.m. on May 20, a truck driver who was parked at a pull-out at Interstate 70 and US-287 called Lincoln County's dispatch center to report that a suspect was breaking into truck trailers.
Lincoln County Sheriff's Office(LCSO) Deputy Michael Hutton responded. As he and the truck driver approached an open trailer, he was shot by the suspect who was hiding inside, the decision letter from the DA says.
That scenario was backed up by body camera footage released earlier by the sheriff's office, which can be seen in the video below.
Hutton was seriously wounded and fell to the ground but was able to stand and run for cover as the suspect continued to shoot at him, the letter says.
The truck driver, too, was fired upon but was only slightly wounded.
Hutton fired back three times before he was able to get across the road, where he collapsed. He discharged his weapon an additional time to help responding officers locate him because they could not find him due to the dense fog in the area.
When Hutton was interviewed, she said that his duty weapon was still in its holster when he was fired on. He believed Ensigner may have known he was a police officer because he was in uniform and had accidentally turned on his siren while parking.
Hutton said he believed the suspect was pursuing him in order to kill him, the letter says. Due to his wounds, Hutton said he couldn't raise his arms very high but tried to fire at Ensigner.
He said he intended to stop the threat or "keep him at bay," the letter says.
According to the DA's decision, Hutton's actions were "reasonable" due to the "sudden attempt to murder the peace officer and a witnes" The letter notes that Hutton fired to save his own life and the life of the witness.
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