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Suspect in shootout with Englewood police makes court appearance

Philip Blankenship faces charges in connection with a shootout that resulted in his brother being killed. Blankenship's attorney says an officer shot the victim.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — A man accused of getting into a shootout with Englewood police that ended in his brother's death appeared in Arapahoe County court for a preliminary hearing Thursday.

Phillip Blankenship faces two counts of attempted first-degree murder of two Englewood police officers. He arrived to court Thursday in person and out of police custody. His family was also in attendance.

Before witnesses were called to testify, Blankenship's defense attorney said Englewood Police Officer Dirk Smith is the one who shot Blankenship's brother, Matthew Mitchell, on July 24.

During his testimony, Smith said he was positioned across the street from the house. He said he saw a male figure looking out the window toward the officers and that caused him to be alarmed. Smith said he heard a gunshot and glass breaking, and then fired his weapon. He said he originally thought he fired back twice, but said his bodycam footage showed he fired five times. He said he saw the male figure turn and run inside the house, and he continued to fire his weapon.

In total, five Englewood police officers were called to the stand. Under oath, officers were asked a range of questions by the prosecution and defense, including where police were positioned around the home, the timeline of events, and how many gunshots were heard, among other things. 

The court watched a few minutes of Sgt. Adam Wright's bodycam footage, which showed what was happening outside the house right before and during the gunfire.

In the bodycam footage, Blankenship is seen coming out of the house and into police custody. 

During the defense's cross-examination of Wright, the officer said he did not witness Blankenship with a gun when he came outside. 

In the video clip, a few more gunshots are heard, and then Blankenship begs officers to stop shooting. 

An Englewood police officer who arrived on scene after the gunfire said he spoke with Blankenship while he was detained in a patrol car. The officer said Blankenship told him he was the one who fired at police, and that they shot the wrong person. Blankenship indicated to the officer that he wanted police to kill him and that he watched his brother get shot. 

The officer said on the witness stand that Blankenship was extremely upset and was banging his head in the patrol car. Blankenship told the officer, "I was a suicidal maniac," and his brother was trying to talk him down, the officer said.

Detective Brian Martinez also took the stand. He said Blankenship told him he fired his gun once and that he wanted cops to kill him.

Martinez said one spent round and one live round were found inside the home. 

During testimony, the court heard about two bullet holes found in two separate vehicles police were using for cover outside the house.

After testimony, the defense argued that Blankenship should only face one count of attempted second-degree murder because there wasn't enough evidence to show both bullets came from inside the home. The defense said Blankenship was not trying to kill anyone besides himself, and he was drunk. 

The prosecution argued both shots were fired very close to officers, showing there was deliberation and intent. 

The judge found there is probable cause the suspect committed the alleged crimes, though she did acknowledge a discrepancy in the number of shots fired from inside the home. 

Blankenship's arraignment is set for Feb. 24.

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