ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. —
Newly released body camera video shows the Adams County deputy who shot and killed a man last month had a gun drawn before the suspect did.
That shooting happened July 14 at the Lakeside Motel in unincorporated Adams County, ending the life of 35-year-old Mario Ortega.
"Let me see your f**king hands, let me see your hands. Get on the ground," an Adams County Sheriff's deputy shouts at Ortega. It's the first thing we hear the deputy say after his body camera is activated.
The video shows immediately after the deputy's arrival, he has his gun drawn and immediately begins giving Ortega orders.
"Get on the f**king ground, get your hands out of your f**king pockets," the deputy shouts as Ortega, who moves to put his hands in his hoodie pocket.
When the deputy reaches his hand toward Ortega, Ortega quickly steps back and puts what appears to be a gun against his head and backs up. When Ortega appears to pull the holster off the gun, that's when the deputy takes action.
"Dude, put the... he's got a gun, he's got a gun," the deputy shouts before firing several shots at Ortega in quick succession.
The deputy then takes cover himself, calling for backup. He then approaches Ortega, handcuffing him as he lay bleeding on the ground and starts chest compressions.
Ortega later died.
According to the Adams County Sheriff's Office, there was no call for service to this location. Instead, the deputy self-dispatched.
Soon after Ortega's death, 9NEWS spoke with Yolanda Venzor, Ortega's mother. She said she wants to know more about what happened that night and why he was shot.
"It's just heartbreaking knowing your kid died and he's been shot and all the unanswered questions," Venzor said. "What was he doing there...I don't know."
The deputy, that night told fellow law enforcement what happened.
Warning graphic video:
"He pulled a gun, he put it to his head, he had a holster on it. He grabbed the holster on it like he was going to pull it off and turn it on me," the deputy explained. "I'm the only one that shot."
Ed Obayashi, a leading investigator in shootings involving law enforcement officers, watched this body camera footage. He explained that because the deputy did not fire his weapon when Ortega first reached into his hoodie, it appears the deputy may not have known Ortega had a weapon until one was pulled out.
Later, in the moments before the deputy fires, the body camera video shows Ortega pull what appears to be a holster from the weapon in his hand.
"Regardless of what we see on video, what's important is what the deputy perceived under the stress of the situation," Obayashi said.
And because of the way the video is blurred, Obayashi said it's unclear if the gun Ortega is holding is being pointed at the deputy or moving around. That's something investigators will need to look at frame by frame, he said.
"The video is not conclusive," Obayashi said. "And especially without knowing more of what was in the deputy's mind, this is just going to have to wait for the investigation to conclude."
An investigation into this shooting is underway. The Adams County Sheriff's Office said the deputy has been placed on administrative leave.
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