DA sends Rio Blanco deputy back to work

A Rio Blanco deputy who said he had no choice but to kill a resident during a Dec. 10 incident has returned to work.

Sgt. Anthony Mazzola was on paid administrative leave for shooting Rio Blanco resident Everett Link, 39, while the details were under investigation, but Ninth Judicial District Attorney Mac Myers said the deputy could return to work last Tuesday.

Myers said in a statement that although the Colorado Bureau of Investigations has not completed its probe, a verbal briefing with the officials at the state agency prompted his decision to allow Mazzola to return. Myers said he made the decision because further information in the case may not surface after the DA's term ends Jan. 10. Written reports from the pathologist's office aren't expected for a few weeks.

"I want you to know that I have no reason to believe that Sgt. Mazzola's actions were not fully justified, and I have no reason to believe that his resumption of duty would be inappropriate," Myers wrote in a letter to Rio Blanco Sheriff Si Woodruff. "Should I receive CBI's reports prior to Jan. 10, 2005, it remains my intention to make a public decision on the matter."

Mazzola said Link was raising a shotgun and turning toward police cars when he shot the Rio Blanco resident nine times. The incident culminated a short chase in connection with an alleged domestic violence call, police said.

Police pulled four loaded guns and 675 rounds of ammunition from the truck Link was driving. The cab and bed of the 1987 Chevy half-ton pickup was littered with empty beer cans.

Police said they were responding to a call in which Link reportedly had fired a gun in the direction of his girlfriend. Link's former girlfriend, Bridget Rondell, said Link also had pointed a gun at her head, before threatening to kill himself.

Rondell, who said she was a longtime best friend to Link, also has maintained that he was a "nice guy" and "wasn't a murderer."

Police surrounded the home on Piceance Creek Road and a chase ensued when Link buzzed past officers in his truck.

The deputy's shooting ended the pursuit after officers cornered Link's pickup.

Rio Blanco Undersheriff Mike Joos declined to comment on the case. Previously, sheriff's officials have said they supported Mazzola's actions.

Joos said the department has not received any criticism for Mazzola's actions.

Mazzola, 42, is a Meeker native who said he has been with the sheriff's department since 1991 and has no prior experience in law enforcement. Mazzola said this was the first time he's had to fire his gun while on duty.

"We just want to put all of this behind us," Joos said.

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@craigdailypress.com

Commenting has been disabled for this item.