Why Adams County investigators don’t want image of suspect shown

DENVER -- The Adams County Sheriff's Office has not released the mug shot of the suspect they are holding in the shooting death of Deputy Heath Gumm. Officials asked local media outlets to not show the suspect's photo when a previous mug shot of him surfaced.

Dreion Dearing made his first court appearance Friday after being arrested for the shooting Wednesday night. The judge would not allow pictures of his face.

 

We asked an expert why officials don't want the suspect's face shown.

"Most of the time when identities and photos are not released it’s because they are trying not to taint potential photo lineups later," retired Denver Police Sgt. Steve Warneke said.

"Either a police department or sheriff’s department knows there are witnesses out there or they know there are existence of witnesses. They don’t want the people involved in this crime and their identity and their photo to be all over the news because it could potentially taint the line up later on."

He emphasized investigators want to make sure they have time to find all of the witnesses to what happened. Some may not have come forward yet.

"Police and sheriffs' departments want first and foremost to get convictions in court, and you don’t want later on defense attorneys to pick a part a case because someone’s photo was plastered across the media," Warneke said.

Dearing is accused of shooting and killing Gumm while the deputy responded to a call of an assault in progress Wednesday night in the 8700 block of Dawson Street in Thornton.

"I think the thing that is important for us as a community to keep in mind is the most important thing here is the successful prosecution of whoever was responsible for this. If that means we have to delay seeing a picture of the person involved for a little while, let's do that for the greater good," Warneke said.