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‘In Broad Daylight’: Colorado Cop Checks to Make Sure His Partner Is ‘OK,’ Provides No Medical Aid to Unarmed Man Shot Point-Blank Range at Middle School As Children Watched

The family of a Colorado man who was shot and killed by deputies as he waited in line to pick up his little brother from school last year has filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed on Feb. 21, the day before the anniversary of 32-year-old Richard Ward’s death. Ward died after being shot by a Pueblo County sheriff’s deputy after being dragged from his mother’s SUV at Liberty Point International Middle School in Pueblo West. He was shot three times in the chest.

“Richard Ward’s death is a profound injustice — an unarmed, cooperative citizen shot and killed in front of his mother by a Pueblo County sheriff’s deputy,” said Darold Killmer, the Ward family’s attorney. “This was nothing short of state-sanctioned murder of a citizen who should not have been even arrested, let alone killed in broad daylight.”

Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office
Deputy Charles McWhorter kills Richard Ward in Pueblo West, Colorado, on Feb. 22, 2022. (Photo: 9NEWS / YouTube)

The account given by the sheriff’s department of the events leading up to Ward’s death differs from bodycam footage and Ward’s family.

Ward’s family said he was waiting for his brother to finish school in the back of his mother’s white SUV. He was with his mom and her boyfriend and took a “brief walk” before returning to the SUV. According to the lawsuit, Ward got into the wrong white SUV upon his return and quickly apologized once realizing he was in the wrong vehicle and returning to his mother’s SUV.

The Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office claimed that a witness notified school administrators that Ward was banging on car doors outside of the school and appeared to be on drugs. They also claimed the school principal confronted Ward and told him to wait in his vehicle. The sheriff’s office also claimed that when they arrived, Ward “jumped out of the vehicle” and head-butted one deputy, breaking his nose.

Pueblo County Sheriff’s Deputies Charles McWhorter and Cassandra Gonzales responded to a call from the school. McWhorter was the first on the scene and questioned Ward as he sat in the back of the SUV.

Bodycam footage showed Ward telling McWhorter, “I’m a little nervous ’cause I don’t like cops.” He also notified McWhorter that he had anxiety. “I have anxiety – they’ve done things to me.”

“What have they done to you?” asked McWhorter.

Ward responded, “Uh, ‘stop resisting’ when you’re not resisting.”

McWhorter replied, “is that PD or us? We’re different, right? We’re the SO.”

Ward twice said he was just there to pick up his little brother. “Who did I disrupt by trying to get my little brother?”

McWhorter explained that the police were told that Ward was banging on doors and he wanted to hear his side of things. Ward told the deputy that he mistakingly got into the wrong car. “I straight up thought that was my freaking car, that’s all it was.”

Ward was calm and polite as he responded to McWhorter’s questions for several minutes before the deputy asked for his identification. As Ward began to search his pockets, McWhorter asked if he had any weapons. Ward said he didn’t think so, but he may have a pocket knife. While searching his pockets, he found a loose “prescribed anti-anxiety tablet” and popped it in his mouth, which is where things took a drastic turn.

McWhorter said, “What did you just stick in your mouth?” as he dragged Ward from his mother’s vehicle. Ward appeared to panic as he said, “It was a pill. It was a pill. Let me go.”

The video shows McWhorter and Gonzales rolling around on the ground with Ward before McWhorter said, “Stop resisting, bro,” and then fired three shots into Ward’s chest at point-blank range and standing up.

“Within only a few seconds of pulling Richard – who was unarmed – from the car onto the ground underneath the hands-on force being applied by both deputies, Deputy McWhorter shot Richard three times with his service firearm, point blank, in the chest,” read the lawsuit.

Kristy Ward Stamp, Ward’s mother, could be heard screaming, “Is my son shot? What happened? Oh my god, no, no,” before asking the police to do CPR. None of the deputies on the scene provided medical aid to Ward as he lay bleeding on the ground, the footage shows.

The deputies on the scene claimed that they feared for their lives despite Ward being unarmed. The 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office ruled that the fatal shooting was justifiable.

KUSA reporter Steve Staeger noted the lies told by the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office during a press conference. Then chief-deputy Sheriff David Lucero claimed that Ward jumped out of his vehicle.

“Yet another example for reporters to be cautious about the information shared by police in the early stages of these shootings. In his statement to media on the scene that day, Sheriff David Lucero (chief deputy then) claimed Ward ‘jumped out of the vehicle,’ he wrote. “A reminder – the video shows the deputy pulled Ward out of the car after he slipped something in his mouth. The two did wrestle on the ground a bit before the shooting. But Ward didn’t jump out of the vehicle.”

After the shooting, the man’s distraught mother asked the police officer to shut the door as her son lay on the snow-covered cement outside of the SUV.

Ward’s mother said she is heartbroken. “I have no words to explain this to Richard’s little brother,” said Ward Stamp. “Our family has been ripped apart.” 

The family’s attorney Darold Killmer told USA Today that the authorities are refusing to hold their deputies responsible for Ward’s death, so they filed a lawsuit.

“Pueblo County refuses to hold Richard’s killers accountable, and the County has ignored repeated requests to remedy this tragic and egregious situation,” said Killmer. “So we will turn to a jury to obtain the justice that Richard and his family deserves. The killing of an unarmed man, in broad daylight right in front of his mother, is yet another senseless killing by aggressive law enforcement officers poorly trained to handle even the most routine police tasks without resorting to dangerous and even deadly weapons.”

Another family attorney, Mari Newman, contradicted the deputies’ claims that they were in danger and said they were “simply making things up.” The family and their attorneys believe Ward was murdered.

“The video doesn’t show him doing anything,” she said. “Except for being yanked out of the car and thrown to the ground.”

Neither McWhorter nor Gonzales was fired or disciplined, nor did they receive any additional training, according to the federal lawsuit. McWhorter reportedly was back at work within days of killing Ward.

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