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Lawsuit claims LaSalle officer was 'unfit for duty' when she fatally shot an Adams County deputy

The wrongful death suit claims Caroline Persichetti was traumatized from a prior incident and had not received counseling prior to returning to duty.

LASALLE, Colo. — The family of an off-duty Adams County deputy who died after he was shot in the head by a LaSalle police officer in 2019 filed a wrongful death lawsuit claiming that the city failed to take proper steps to make sure the officer was "emotionally fit" to return to duty following an earlier incident where she was dragged by a suspect.

The lawsuit, filed by Deputy Jesse Jenson's widow Sheila Constable, alleges that trauma from the prior incident caused Officer Caroline Persichetti "to be overly sensitive to subjectively perceived danger." It also says after the dragging incident, she "did not receive counseling and was not prepared to handle another serious incident."

RELATED: Report: LaSalle police officer justified in shooting that killed off-duty deputy

Constable, who is a former Longmont Police officer, is asking in the suit for a change to departmental training and oversight within the LaSalle Police Department. Both Persichetti and the city are named as defendants in the suit.

LaSalle PD Chief Dave Arnold said the department could not comment on the lawsuit at this time.

> The video above aired Jan. 30, 2019 and is a prior report about Deputy Jensen.

Jenson, who was unarmed, was shot on Jan. 16, 2019; he died two days later.

On that night, multiple police agencies in the area became involved in a high-speed chase with a silver Jeep Patriot on Highway 85 in Weld County, according to a report from the Weld County District Attorney's office which found that Persichetti's use of force was justified.

Jenson, who was off-duty at the time, is believed to have joined the chase near Fort Lupton, according to the report. He was driving a green Toyota 4Runner. 

Both Fort Lupton and Platteville Police stopped chasing the suspect driving the Jeep sometime before it entered the town of LaSalle. 

RELATED: Slain Adams County deputy made his life about serving his community and country

Persichetti was positioned on the south side of LaSalle, the report says, waiting for the Jeep. She said in the report that she heard that there was a Toyota chasing the suspect vehicle. 

Persichetti told a grand jury that she saw both the Toyota and the Jeep enter the town of LaSalle, driving at least 90 miles per hour. She said she attempted to stop the vehicles. 

The suspects in the Jeep took off and the Toyota that Jenson was driving came to a stop near the intersection of US 85 and 42nd Street, the report says. 

Jenson got out of the SUV and walked toward Persichetti in what she described in her testimony as an "aggressive manner." The report also says Jenson ignored multiple commands to stop and get on the ground. 

Persichetti told the grand jury that Jenson's left hand was not visible because of the way he was walking and she believed he was armed.

The lawsuit disputes that claim and says Jensen was "visibly unarmed, with his open and empty hands in front of him" and goes on to say that he "merely walked forward" and then was shot.

It also alleges that Persichetti "failed to provide warnings that she might use deadly force" and says she didn't use less-lethal force to de-escalate the situation "despite having an opportunity to do."

The lawsuit also claims that Persichetti "was in a vulnerable mental state at the time she was deployed on the night of the incident" due to the "dragging" incident several months earlier. 

According to the suit, her supervisor and the chief of police were aware of her "vulnerable mental state" and didn't follow the department's "Critical Incident" policies to ensure she was provided the therapy and counseling necessary before she returned to duty.

RELATED: Suspect shot, killed by LaSalle police in unincorporated Weld County

LaSalle officers were involved in four deadly shootings in the last six years, according to the lawsuit, and none of them "were required to follow the steps described in the critical incident policy."

The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages in an amount to be determined during a jury trial.

> Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly listed Sheila Constable's employment status with Longmont PD. It has since been updated.

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