The 22nd Judicial District and the Colorado Department of Investigation have concluded that the use of deadly force by a Montezuma County deputy near Pleasant View was legally justified.
Tyrone Orvy Peabody, 53, was shot and killed on July 4 after he fired at deputies at his residence on County Road 12. Officers were responding to a report of domestic violence and DUI.
An investigation team determined that “Sergeant Brad Ray acted lawfully and in accordance with his duties as a peace officer and used deadly force in a manner consistent with Colorado Revised Statutes,” District Attorney William Furse stated in a report released Oct. 19.
According to an independent investigation, when officers arrived at Peabody’s residence about 9 p.m. in response to the domestic violence call, Peabody acted aggressively, made hostile threats and shot at them with a rifle. Ray and another deputy retreated to the road, took cover and retrieved their rifles. They instructed Peabody to surrender and put down his weapon, and he set down his rifle.
But Peabody then picked up the rifle and aimed it at deputies, prompting. Ray to fire one fatal shot, the report states. An autopsy revealed high levels of alcohol and THC in Peabody’s system.
After being shot, Peabody fell out of view. Deputies continued to give verbal commands, and medics were called to respond, according to dispatch logs.
Officers waited three minutes, then rammed a locked gate with a patrol car to access the property, the report states. They “carefully proceeded” but did not immediately find Peabody.
Upon finding Peabody lying on the ground, “the deputies immediately began first aid and resuscitation efforts,” the report states, including CPR and use of an automated external defibrillator.
When EMS arrived on scene, attempts to revive Peabody continued, but were unsuccessful.
In response to the report, Montezuma County Sheriff Steve Nowlin said that “the facts were investigated thoroughly, and found that the deputies acted in accordance with the law.”
The report notes that the deputies used restraint by exiting the property after being shot at by Peabody, despite being “faced with a scenario in which they would have been justified in responding instantly with deadly force.” Instead, they chose to exit the property and attempted to give verbal direction to Peabody in order to arrest him without further incident or injury.”
The call reporting the domestic violence and DUI was made at 8:30 p.m. by a resident on Road 19, where Peabody had gotten into an argument with the homeowner, who told him to leave. He drove off while intoxicated and reportedly nearly ran over his girlfriend, who was trying to get in the truck, according to the investigation report.
The altercation with deputies began when Peabody returned to his Road 12 residence and about at 8:58 p.m. was met by deputies responding to the domestic violence and DUI report.
A shot fired by Peabody was reported at 9:02 p.m., according to dispatch logs, and Ray returned fire at 9:03 p.m.. Emergency medical services arrived at 9:22 p.m. Both officers involved in the incident were put on paid administrative leave pending the investigation and psychological evaluation, and are now back on duty.
Nowlin said regular training for firearm use and proper use of force aided the officers involved.
“It’s sad, but I believe they made the right decision. It could have been even worse,” he said.
Peabody had previous run-ins with deputies and had a criminal record.
In May 2014, a deputy arrested Peabody after a car chase on County Road CC and charged him with DUI and speeding, according to Sheriff’s Office reports at the time. A deputy who responded to provide backup rolled his vehicle, which came to rest upside down. A Colorado State Patrol officer and a deputy had questioned Peabody at his home earlier that day, based on a complaint that he had been driving erratically, but they didn’t make an arrest.
In 2013, Peabody was convicted of careless driving and was sentenced to 12 months of probation. That same year, he was convicted of illegal weapons possession and received 12 months of probation, and was forced to forfeit the weapon.