The deadly force deputies used in a two-minute confrontation outside the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office headquarters that killed a former deputy — who drove to the building with a gun in his lap — was legal, a review by the district attorney's office said.
Mark Bidon, a former Arapahoe County Sheriff's deputy, drove to the sheriff's office parking lot in Centennial and displayed behavior that concerned other deputies Oct. 29. He initially complied with orders before provoking gunfire, according to the review by the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office, released Dec. 11 and dated Nov. 8.
The review pulled evidence from interviews of the officers involved, photographs, body-camera footage and parking-lot surveillance footage at the building located at 13101 E. Broncos Parkway.
“Were the officers not to have fired upon Bidon at that time, the risk of imminent harm to all three of the officers would have escalated,” said Matt Maillaro, senior chief deputy district attorney for the 18th Judicial District. “The risk would have included the general public as well if Bidon were to flee from that area.”
Bidon, 50, worked for the sheriff's office as a deputy in its detentions facility. He resigned from the sheriff's office in 2010 after about 10 years of service.
The review offers a detailed account of the events before his fatal shooting.
Minutes before Deputy Buddy Gillespie drove his patrol car into the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office employee parking lot entrance at 9:43 p.m. Oct. 29, Bidon drove his car into the lot and blocked an exit lane. As Gillespie approached, Bidon pulled his car forward and made room for Gillespie to pass him. Gillespie pulled alongside his car and asked him if he could help him.
“Yeah,” Bidon said. “I'm here for my orders.”
The deputy believed Bidon was having “some type of mental episode,” the review said, and radioed that he may have mental health problems. Gillespie pulled forward, got out of his car and approached his driver's-side door.
He asked if Bidon was armed, and Bidon responded, “Yes.” Gillespie drew his own weapon but kept it at his side and told Bidon to put his hands on the steering wheel — Bidon put his right hand on it, but hesitated to put his left hand on the wheel. Gillespie repeated his order, and Bidon complied. A Glock pistol sat in Bidon's lap.
Sgt. Bruce Walker of the sheriff's office was in the parking lot and heard Gillespie's calls on the radio. He jogged over to Gillespie and approached Bidon's car with his gun drawn.
Body-camera footage from Gillespie shows Bidon's speech and gaze giving off a distant, detached air — Walker described Bidon as having a “1,000-yard stare.” Walker recognized Bidon from their police-academy training and later told investigators when he saw him, he immediately thought he was going to hurt them or himself. Bidon wore a duty belt, despite having separated from the sheriff's office years ago.
“Don't move one inch — I'm serious, OK?” Gillespie said. Bidon responded, “OK.”
Gillespie told Walker of Bidon's gun resting in his lap, and Walker said, “Mark, what are you doing?” as he reached toward Bidon's lap to grab the gun in an “unthreatening” manner, the review said.
But before Walker's hand reached the gun, Bidon looked “directly up at Walker” and quickly reached down to grab it. The two struggled to gain hold of it — Walker saying, “What are you doing? Please don't do that” — and at about the same time, Gillespie repeatedly, rapidly yelled, “Don't! Don't!” before shooting Bidon seven times.
At about the same time, Deputy Matthew Schambow had approached the passenger side of the car after hearing Gillespie's radio call. Schambow opened the car door in an effort to get the gun off Bidon's lap during the conversation with Walker and Gillespie. Instead, he watched Bidon reach for the gun and start to point it toward Walker. Schambow shot Bidon twice. The shooting happened at about 9:45 p.m.
Bidon died of the gunshot wounds. His toxicology showed no alcohol, controlled substances or “significant medications” in his system, according to the Arapahoe County Coroner's Office.
Gillespie thought Bidon was about to kill someone, he told investigators.
The review was based on state law that says deadly physical force may be used if a person reasonably believes lesser force would be inadequate, and if a person reasonably believes himself or another person to be in imminent danger of being killed or greatly injured.
Similarly, state law says in part that a law enforcement officer can justifiably use deadly force during an arrest when the officer believes it necessary to defend himself or someone else from use of deadly force.
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