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Two officer involved shootings ruled justified

Published On: Mar 12 2013 07:05:52 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 12 2013 10:24:22 PM CDT
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

Colorado Springs Police Officers involved in fatally shooting two suspects in separate incidents have been cleared of any wrongdoing.

According to a report from the District Attorney's Office in the Fourth Judicial District, officers were justified when they shot Robert Kresky on December 4th in Colorado Springs and Nicholas Titus on December 21st, in Widefield. 

According to the report, "The officers' use if force against the suspects was reasonable, appropriate and justified."

Kreesky was shot 14 times after police chased both his vehicle and later him on foot. two officers shot Kresky. According to the report from the District Attorney the officers said Kresky threatened to shoot the officers during the foot pursuit and after the officers cought up to him. A gun was found in his car.

Titus was shot by two officers after police say he attemtped to ram their cars and pointed a gun at them from inside his car.

The report by the District Attorney's Office states Titus was shot between 10 and 12 times.

The report states that both men were involved in a crime ring that involved drugs, stolen cars and burglaries.

 

Below is a copy of the report:
(Please note that there is some inappropriate language contained in the report)

            The 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office has completed separate and distinct investigations into the officer-involved shootings that occurred on December 4, 2012 and December 21, 2012 involving Robert Kresky and Nicholas Titus.  Following careful independent review of the facts and evidence surrounding each of the two incidents, it has been determined that the officers’ use of force against the suspects was reasonable, appropriate and justified. 

                Prior to the first shooting on December 4, 2012, a Colorado Springs Police Department Task Force had identified a “Kresky Criminal Organization.”  At that time, it was known that the group was committing crimes across the Colorado Springs Police Department divisions.  Specifically, it was learned that officers from every division had chased stolen vehicles driven by Robert Kresky or a member of the organization.  The “Kresky Criminal Organization” took very specific evasive actions whenever they were involved in pursuits.  The group was also involved in burglaries, narcotics, and had significant ties to Mexican nationals involved in large scale drug distribution.  On the night of the shooting, at briefings and in line-ups, officers were informed of Robert Kresky’s criminal behaviors.  Information about that criminal activity will be elaborated on later in this report. 

                On December 4, 2012, at approximately 0108 hours, the Colorado Springs Police Department Emergency Communications Center received several calls for service regarding shots fired in the 3200 block of Tail Spin Drive.  Officers responded to Tail Spin Drive, and a black truck (later determined to be driven by Nicholas Byron Titus, DOB 09/12/91) and a Jeep Liberty (later determined to be driven by Robert Jeremiah Kresky, DOB 08/15/89) thought to be connected to the shots fired were seen leaving the area.  Officers immediately initiated a pursuit of the Jeep Liberty and black truck.  The black truck was able to elude officers, but a pursuit of the Jeep Liberty ensued.  During the pursuit officers fully activated their marked police vehicles’ emergency lights and sirens.  During the pursuit, the Jeep Liberty was operated without lights and almost hit another officer by driving in the opposite lane directly at him.  As the pursuit ensued, the Jeep Liberty’s Colorado license plate 723OHS was checked and came back as belonging to a stolen vehicle.  The Jeep eluded pursuing officers for several minutes and at times traveled at an estimated 50 miles per hour in residential neighborhoods.  The Jeep ran through stop lights and stop signs.  The pursuit covered a distance of 9.1 miles through business and residential areas of Colorado Springs.  Some of the officers involved in the pursuit recognized these tactics as to what they had been briefed on earlier that evening.  After determining there was risk to the public and getting permission from Lieutenant Anderson, officers were able to complete a successful pit maneuver where the Jeep was struck and spun in order to disable it.  This occurred on East Bijou Street.

                The sole occupant of the vehicle, Robert Kresky, immediately exited the passenger side of the vehicle and began to run in a southwest direction toward Iowa Avenue.  Several officers began a foot pursuit.  While running, Mr. Kresky had his right hand in his waist band and kept looking back at the officers in a defensive position.  Officers yelled at Mr. Kresky, “Police, stop, let me see your hands!”  Mr. Kresky responded by saying “Fuck you, I’ll shoot you!”  Mr. Kresky continued to keep his right hand in his waist band. 

                After chasing Mr. Kresky for several blocks, officers were able to confront him in an unlit parking lot located between 118 and 122 North Swope Avenue.  Police were still yelling commands to Mr. Kresky, and Mr. Kresky was still yelling “Fuck you, I’ll shoot you!”  Mr. Kresky kept looking over his shoulder at the officers who were shouting commands.  At this point Officer Wheeler drew his weapon because Mr. Kresky was looking at officers as if he were picking out which officer he would shoot.  Mr. Kresky was still not obeying verbal commands and had his back to officers.  Officer Van’t Land also had his gun drawn and was certain that Mr. Kresky had a weapon and was going to shoot officers.  Officer Van’t Land believed there was going to be a shootout.  Mr. Kresky was telling officers that he had a gun and was going to shoot them.  At that point Officer Van’t Land started shooting, and Officer Wheeler fired seconds after him.  Mr. Kresky fell down by a vehicle, and officers could only see him from the waist down.  Mr. Kresky’s hands were still in his waistband, and Officer Wheeler said it looked like Mr. Kresky was reaching for something.  Officer Van’t Land was yelling “Get your hands up, get your hands up!”  Officer Van’t Land saw that Mr. Kresky was half on his back and half on his side and instead of complying with police commands Mr. Kresky was messing with something around his waist band while his hands were still not visible.  Mr. Kresky was still yelling that he would shoot police.  Both Officers Wheeler and Van’t Land were approximately 15-25 feet from Mr. Kresky when they shot a second time.  Officer Wheeler specifically shot at Mr. Kresky’s feet and Officer Van’t Land shot at his legs.  After the second round of shots Mr. Kresky became compliant and immediately put his hands up.  Mr. Kresky was placed in custody and transported to Memorial Hospital Central due to several gunshot wounds.  Robert Kresky was pronounced dead four days later.  An autopsy that was later completed would show that Mr. Kresky had been shot 14 times, with 11 of the entrance wounds in his lower extremities.       

                After the foot pursuit, officers observed a semi-automatic .40 caliber black handgun on the ground next to the front passenger side door of the Jeep Liberty.  This was the same door that Mr. Kresky used when exiting the vehicle.  The gun was later determined to be stolen during a burglary on December 1, 2012. 

                On December 21, 2012, CSPD Officers from various divisions and teams met to discuss an attempted contact and arrest of one of Kresky’s associates, Nicholas Titus.  Titus had four outstanding felony warrants. Officers were briefed that Titus may be located at 616 W. Kiowa Street #1, Colorado Springs, Colorado.  Officers developed a plan to apprehend Mr. Titus on the warrant.  Further briefing indicated that witnesses had seen Titus with a scoped rifle and a .45 caliber handgun.  Mr. Titus was a known associate of Mr. Kresky, heavily involved with methamphetamines and was further reported to have made threats to retaliate against the officers involved in the Mr. Kresky’s shooting.  A witness further reported that Mr. Titus had also stated he would not stop for the police and would shoot it out with the police if they attempted to stop him. 

                Around 10 am on December 21, Officers set up surveillance near the West Kiowa address.  While maintaining a safe level of surveillance, officers observed a red truck driving through a back alley in close proximity to the Kiowa address.  An officer with personal knowledge of Mr. Titus confirmed he was the sole occupant and driver as the truck was leaving the West Kiowa address.  The truck was a red Chevrolet 2004 truck with a license plate of Colorado 363XDC.  Officers determined the truck Titus was driving had been reported stolen in an earlier automobile theft case. 

                Titus left the Kiowa Street address eventually travelling south on Interstate 25 (I-25).  He continued south on I-25 to exit 135, the South Academy Boulevard exit.  He then turned left travelling north on Academy to Colorado Highway 85/87 where he exited and began travelling south.  Mr. Titus drove south on 85/87, taking a left turn onto Fontaine Boulevard and then made a quick right turn onto Widefield Boulevard.  Mr. Titus pulled into a parking lot north of the 7-11 store located at 5 Widefield Boulevard.  He then drove west and south around the back side of the business towards the 7-11 store. 

                Officers decided to arrest him in the parking lot.  The parking lot was towards the rear of the businesses and isolated from civilians and traffic.  As Titus backed his truck into a diagonal parking stall, two police vehicles attempted to box in his car in an attempt to effectuate an arrest and investigate the stolen vehicle.  Upon Mr. Titus not submitting to police authority and surrendering, officers deployed a “flash bang” device in an attempt to divert Mr. Titus and take him into custody.  Mr. Titus ignored police contact and the flash bang device, driving directly at a CSPD vehicle ramming it head on.  Officers were inside this vehicle.  According to the officers in the vehicle, Mr. Titus was reported as having a “stressed look” on his face prior to crashing into the CSPD vehicle.  After ramming the police vehicle, Mr. Titus put the truck in reverse and maneuvered around the damaged vehicle. 

                Shortly after being rammed, Officers Wingert, Van Ooyen and Tomcyzk exited the vehicle.  Officer Wingert approached the truck yelling “police” and “stop” several times.  Officer Wingert saw Titus reaching down in the truck seat for a handgun.  Mr. Titus drove directly towards Officer Wingert, seemingly trying to ‘run over’ Officer Wingert.   Officer Wingert managed to avoid being struck while firing his gun toward the windshield area of the stolen truck.  The truck continued towards Widefield Boulevard with officers pursing the truck on foot.  

                Officer Carter, in the vehicle to the rear of Titus truck at the first contact, also began to pursue the truck on foot.  Officer Carter also shouted he was a police officer and for Mr. Titus to stop.  Mr. Titus continued driving east towards the 7-11, with other police officers and civilians in his path.  Titus was unsuccessfully rammed by another police vehicle.  Mr. Titus continued driving east towards the North side of the 7-11.  Mr. Titus was eventually rammed by a vehicle driven by CSPD K9 Officer Genta and came to a stop at the northeast corner of the 7-11 building.  In the process Mr. Titus also struck a third police parked vehicle head on.  Detective Lantz was in the third vehicle and believed Mr. Titus was purposefully driving at him, threatening his life. 

                Officers Wingert and Carter pursued the truck on foot approaching it from the driver’s side.  Both officers noticed Mr. Titus was opening the driver’s side door of the truck.  Officers Wingert, Carter and Genta noticed a handgun in Titus hand.  The officers saw Titus bring the handgun up and point it in the direction of the officers.  Officers Wingert and Carter fired bursts at Mr. Titus.  Titus was unable to exit the truck.  

                Mr. Titus was removed from the truck and handcuffed.  Rounds from Officers Wingert and Carter had struck him.  After Mr. Titus was removed from the truck a .45 caliber Springfield Armory handgun was found in the driver’s seat of the red truck.  The handgun was checked and determined to have been stolen in a recent burglary.  Medical personnel were standing by and attempted to render aid to Mr. Titus.  He was pronounced dead at the scene.  Approximately 10-12 rounds from Wingert and Carter struck Titus.

According to multiple witnesses, Mr. Kresky and Mr. Titus were associates and spent a great deal of time together.  They were known heavy drug users.  Investigation revealed that both regularly took automobiles, guns and other valuable items in burglaries to finance their methamphetamine use.    Toxicology reports show that Mr. Kresky still had methamphetamine in his system at his autopsy four days after the incident.  Upon the autopsy of Mr. Titus, a bag of suspected methamphetamine was found in his pocket.  Toxicology reports show that Mr. Titus was under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of the incident on December 21. 

Both individuals were also seen on multiple occasions with guns ranging in caliber from .38, .357, 9mm, and .45 (handguns), 12 gauge pump shotgun, 30 06 scoped rifle and a .50 caliber long gun.  Some of these weapons were linked back to prior burglaries that were committed in the Colorado Springs metro area.  A task force that was created due to a number of burglaries and motor vehicle thefts had connected Mr. Kresky and Mr. Titus to several of those burglaries and motor vehicle thefts.  The span of these offenses includes El Paso County, the Cities of Colorado Springs, Falcon and Fountain.

The investigation also revealed many police contacts in which these two individuals were pursued by police.  The pursuits involved very specific actions by Mr. Kresky and Mr. Titus.  It is believed that they had access to the Colorado Springs Police Department’s policy defining when officers would discontinue an active vehicle pursuit.  Because of this knowledge, upon being pursued they would take actions that caused concerns to officers pursuing them.  Upon these actions supervisors had to call off the pursuits.  Mr. Kresky and Mr. Titus also told several witnesses that if they had to shoot it out with the police that they would.  Neither wanted to go back to jail and said they would shoot a police officer if needed.  Officers involved in the pursuit of Mr. Kresky were briefed on these statements before going on their patrol shift that night.  Officers involved in the attempted contact of Mr. Titus had received a photograph of Titus and were aware that he was known to carry weapons, had made statements similar to Mr. Kresky’s and had warrants out for his arrest. 

                Colorado Revised Statutes § 18-1-707 provides that an officer is justified in using deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that it is necessary to defend himself or a third person from what he or she reasonably believes to be the imminent use of deadly physical force.  The District Attorney’s Office reviews all incidents involving a discharged weapon by an officer. 

The facts and evidence from the Robert Kresky investigation show that the officers were acting reasonably at the time.  Officers knew of Robert Kresky and his tendency to get into pursuits.  Officers were responding to a shots-fired call indicating that a gun was involved.  Furthermore, officers knew the vehicle was stolen and that Robert Kresky had almost hit another officer during the pursuit.  Rather than listen to officer’s commands, Robert Kresky was desperate to get away from officers and ran after the pit maneuver was completed.  Officers were then forced into a situation with Mr. Kresky where they thought they would be shot.  Thus, based on the law and the facts, the investigation has determined that the officers were justified under the law of the State of Colorado. No criminal charges will be pursued.

The facts and evidence from the Nicholas Titus investigation also show that the officers were acting reasonably at the time.  Law enforcement knew of Nicholas Titus statements, his penchant for stealing cars and carrying guns and the likelihood he would rather ‘shoot it out with the police’ rather than go back to jail.  They knew he had four felony warrants for his arrest and was likely driving a stolen truck.  Officers acted on their experience, their training and their knowledge of the law to try and peacefully apprehend Nicholas Titus.  Titus had several opportunities to surrender to police and rather chose to escalate the violence and create a situation that led to him being shot by the police.  The officers matched Titus’s force with their force still trying to apprehend him without injuring anyone.  Titus tried to evade the numerous police vehicles that converged on the stolen truck.  When the truck was disabled, Titus started to exit the truck with a gun in his hand, pointed at officers.  Officers acting on Titus actions had to shoot him fearing that they would be shot.  Thus, based on the law and the facts, the investigation has determined that the officers were justified under the law of the state of Colorado.  No criminal charges will be pursued. 

 

 

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