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Body camera footage released after man found guilty in shooting of Fort Lupton officer

Matthew Cotter was convicted Wednesday of more than a dozen charges in connection with the 2019 shooting, the DA's office said.

WELD COUNTY, Colo. — Following a nearly weeklong trial, a Weld County jury convicted a man on 14 charges related to the shooting of a Fort Lupton police sergeant in late 2019.

Matthew Cotter was convicted of shooting Sgt. Christopher Pelton during an incident on Ponderosa Place Dec. 2, 2019. Pelton was shot in the face, which shattered his jaw. He spent more than a week in the intensive care unit.

Cotter was convicted Wednesday of more than a dozen charges, the Weld County District Attorney's Office said.

They included:

  • Four counts of attempted first-degree murder
  • One count attempted first-degree assault
  • One count of attempted assault
  • Six counts crime of violence
  • One count reckless endangerment
  • One count prohibited use of a weapon

Cotter faces between 48 and 96 years in prison, the DA's office said. He will be sentenced May 12. 

>The video above aired on Dec. 4, 2019 

Officers initially responded to a home on Ponderosa Place around 9 p.m. on Dec. 2 after a resident called the police and said that her daughter's ex-boyfriend, identified as Cotter, had threatened to harm her daughter and then kill himself, an affidavit from the Greeley Police Department (GPD) says. 

Officers checked the area, but did not find Cotter or his vehicle, which was described as a gray Ford Focus, the affidavit says.

RELATED: Fort Lupton officer, suspect critically wounded in shooting

About two hours later, there was another call for help from that same home, according to the affidavit.

This time, the caller said that Cotter was parked outside the home with his lights turned off and sent a text message to his ex-girlfriend saying, "It's too late," the affidavit says. The caller then told dispatch that Cotter was armed.

>  WARNING: This video contains strong language and graphic violence, which may be disturbing to some viewers.

Officers arrived at the home but did not see Cotter. They requested that dispatch have someone from inside the home come and meet them, the affidavit says.

A short time later, an officer announced over the radio that shots had been fired and that an officer and Cotter had been shot. Both were transported to the hospital.

Credit: Fort Lupton PD
Sgt. Christopher Pelton

RELATED: Injured Fort Lupton officer moved out of ICU

The day after the shooting, Cotter met with detectives and agreed to talk with them after waiving his rights.

Cotter told detectives he was at the home at 282 Ponderosa Pl. and heard police sirens approaching, the arrest affidavit says. He took a handgun from the car, loaded a round in the chamber and then ran and hid behind a fence, according to the affidavit.

He told detectives, according to the affidavit, that he saw officers arrive through a slat in the fence, and then "admitted shooting three or four rounds from his handgun at an officer."

> WARNING: Video contains profanity and descriptions of violent events, which may be sensitive to some viewers.

"I shot, he dropped, they shot, I dropped," Cotter said, according to the document.

Cotter added he "caught the officer off guard," according to the affidavit, and then "detailed how he focused on his gunsights when aiming at the officer" from a position on the ground.

After firing the shots, Cotter said he heard other officers approaching and attempted to run away, but was immediately shot and taken into custody.

He was initially charged with: 

  • Two counts of attempt to commit first-degree murder
  • Three counts of first-degree assault
  • One count of attempt to commit first-degree assault
Credit: Weld County Sheriff's Office
Matthew Cotter

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