Video raises possibility police shot Rifle man in the back
RIFLE — A cell phone video appears to show the Aug. 5 fatal shooting of Allan George in Rifle by police and seems to indicate he was shot in the back as he was moving away from officers.
The footage was taken across the river from the bridge where George was stopped, then shot by Rifle Police, who were attempting to arrest George on charges of child exploitation.
In the video, a person believed to be George — wearing a brightly colored shirt— is seen jogging away from a police car followed by at least one person dressed in dark colors. Two shots are heard in the video, and the person falls forward.
In the video, it appears the suspect’s hands are restrained behind his back but it is unclear whether he was holding anything.
George died shortly after the incident. The cause of death was two gunshot wounds “of the chest,” according to the coroner’s press release issued two days after the incident, which could mean he was shot from behind.
“The ‘of chest’ refers to the chest cavity and vital organs contained within,” Garfield County Coroner Robert Glassmire said. “It does not indicate the point of entry of any wounds from gunshots,”
Glassmire declined to comment on whether the entry wounds were in the chest or the back, and deferred to forensic investigators on whether there were handcuff marks on the wrists.
Two officers were involved in the shooting, and have been placed on administrative leave while the incident is being investigated by a Critical Incident Team comprised of Garfield County Sheriff’s Office detectives and other 9th District Attorney staff.
The video shows the Rifle Bridge over the Colorado River, but it is not possible to identify George or any other figures from the video alone. However, the cars shown within the video match images investigators shared in an effort to look for witnesses to the shooting.
One car was driving by the suspect and police vehicles on the bridge around the time of the gunshots.
The day after the incident, Garfield County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Walt Stowe, who is part of the 9th Judicial District’s Critical Incident Team investigating the shooting, released pictures of four cars.
Stowe sent out a press release with small, thumbnail-sized pictures of four cars that may have witnessed the incident, and asked anyone with information about the vehicles’ owners to contact investigators.
Those four images match frames from the cell phone video shared with the Post Independent.
Police were attempting to arrest George on an Eagle County warrant for child sexual exploitation, on charges that he possessed pornographic images of minors. After pulling George over, “things escalated,” Stowe said last week.
“He had a gun, and the Rifle Police Department responded initially, to my knowledge, according to protocol,” Stowe said.
When asked about the mobile phone video and what it depicted, Stowe said he had not seen it.
Speaking generally, Stowe did explain what officers are trained to do when a suspect has a gun.
“The real question when it comes to protocol is whether he still had the gun in his hand, at least to my mind,” Stowe said.
“If he still was carrying a gun, he still was a threat, not just to the officers but to the people passing by,” Stowe said. “I can only speak to that in generality, because I have not seen the video at this point.”
“The District Attorney will decide whether this warrants further investigation of the officers, or if they were within in their standard procedural protocol,” Stowe added.
“I think the investigation is close to being complete, and I’m anticipating they will be turning over the information soon to the District Attorney,” he said.
Rifle Police officers do not have body cams or record video in police vehicles, Rifle Police Chief Tommy Klein said. Officers have the ability to record audio of interactions, but Klein would not confirm whether there is audio of recording of the George shooting.
Klein said he has seen a video shot from the same angle near the boat ramp which identified the vehicles in the video the Post Independent has seen. He added the CIT is aware of the cell phone video.
District Attorney Jeff Cheney declined to comment on any piece of evidence, but said the CIT inspectors were being thorough.
“I can’t comment on any of the evidence, or anything that may remotely be a piece of evidence,” Cheney said.
He added, “We will definitely be informing the public when the investigation is concluded, and legal conclusions have been made.”
The Post Independent is not publishing the video because we were unable to obtain the original videographer’s permission to reproduce.
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