Court papers: Deputy’s weapon malfunctioned in deadly fire fight

BRIGHTON, Colo. -- The man accused of shooting and killing an Adams County sheriff deputy on Jan. 24 has been formally charged with four counts of first-degree murder.

Clad in a striped jumpsuit and shackled at the wrists and ankles, 22-year-old Dreion Dearing, the man accused of killing deputy Heath Gumm, walked solemnly into the courtroom.

Adams County Sheriff Michael McIntosh was inside the courtroom for the hearing.

“This is obviously a very difficult time for the sheriff’s office," McIntosh said. "As the leader of the organization for which our deputy was killed, I think that it’s important to represent the agency."

Arrest documents, unsealed by Judge Patrick Murphy, say Dearing told investigators that on the night of Jan. 24 he drank a six-pack of Bud Lite beer and smoked two blunts in a two- to three-hour period.

He said he fell asleep in a friend’s car and the next thing he remembers is being dragged by a dog and deputies arresting him.

Before the shooting, deputy William Booker, who was with Gumm, said as they were jumping a fence in the 8700 block of Dawson Street in Thornton chasing the suspect he “heard Gumm announce the man was reaching for something in his waistband.”

Booker said he then heard Gumm yell, “Police, stop running, don’t be stupid.”

Booker said he saw Gumm move toward a shed, then saw several muzzle flashes and Gumm began to return fire.

Booker said he “fired two to three rounds at muzzle flashes coming from the north side of the residence and then had a weapon malfunction.”

Booker said he found Gumm lying face down with a gunshot wound to his torso. Investigators later found several .45 caliber spent shell casings at the scene and a .45 caliber pistol hidden under a camper.

Detectives followed footprints from Edison Street to De Soto Street. In the backyard of the residence there is a treehouse.

Court papers say detectives tried to push the door to the treehouse open, but it was being blocked. A K-9 pulled out Dearing.

If convicted, Dearing faces the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Adams County District Attorney Dave Young has not determined if he will seek the death penalty.

"That’s a very important decision to make," he said. "I certainly want to have everything I need to have to make that decision.”

Dearing is facing seven counts: Four counts of first-degree murder, one count of first-degree burglary, one count of possession of a weapon by a previous offender and one count of third-degree assault."

Dearing's family had no comment.

The court papers also say among the evidence collected was detectives finding a pay stub with Dearing’s name on it inside the treehouse.

There was also a shoe impression in the same area that appears to match the sole of Dearing’s Nike tennis shoe.

Dearing will be back in court in April for a preliminary hearing.