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Crime and Courts

Judge denies gun seizure of Colorado officer’s guns under red flag law

Susan Holmes said there was a credible risk of unlawful or reckless use of a firearm by Colorado State University police Officer Phillip Morris because he threatened and killed her son, Jeremy Holmes

A judge on Thursday denied a petition to seize the guns of a police officer involved in the 2017 fatal shooting of a 19-year-old which was sought by the teen’s mother under Colorado’s new red flag law.

In her Jan. 9 petition for an extreme risk protection order, Susan Holmes said there was a credible risk of unlawful or reckless use of a firearm by Colorado State University police Officer Phillip Morris because he threatened and killed her son, Jeremy Holmes, and because she said he has shown ongoing violence and aggression.

The law, which took effect Jan. 1, is similar to those adopted in over a dozen other states and intended to allow family members or law enforcement to seek a court order to confiscate the weapons of people they believe could harm themselves or others.

In the section of the form where Holmes was asked to describe her family or household relationship with Morris, she checked the box for having a child in common with him — a possible reference to her son. On Wednesday, she told The Associated Press the law could be interpreted in different ways.

Morris does not share a child with Holmes, said Dell Rae Ciaravola, a spokeswoman for Colorado State’s police department.

After the hearing, Holmes said she wanted to keep her arguments private because she is considering an appeal, the Coloradoan reported.

Morris’ actions in the shooting were investigated and deemed justified by the district attorney, who noted that Morris tried to de-escalate the situation.

In posts on Facebook, Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith called Holmes’ petition, signed under oath and penalty of perjury, a fraud and said his staff told the court that they had not served notice to Morris about the petition.

After the denial, Smith said he was “very pleased with the ruling.”

Democrats pointed to the outcome as an example of the new law working as it should.

“What the hearing today demonstrated is that there are protections in the ERPO law to prevent people from abusing it,” Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, whose office worked on the case, said in a written statement. “Abuse of this important law undermines the very fabric of its critical purpose, which is to protect public safety.”

Republicans, meanwhile, said the case clearly showed how easily the law can be manipulated and abused.

The red flag law has been used a handful of times since it went into effect on Jan. 1.

The Colorado Sun contributed to this report.

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