Ex-Broncos, CU lineman Justin Bannan pleads not guilty by reason of insanity in attempted murder case

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BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) — Former Broncos and University of Colorado defensive lineman Justin Bannan pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity Thursday in connection to a shooting that wounded a woman in October 2019.

The shooting occurred at the warehouse where Bannan worked. He was hiding in a room and when Ashley Marie walked in, he allegedly shot her in the shoulder.

Marie is now suing Bannan for civil damages.

Police said the shooting was random and that Bannan and Marie worked in the same building. They added the two were distantly acquainted.

An officer who responded to the scene said Bannan told him he believed the Russian mafia was following him. He said he went into a dark room at Black Lab Sports to hide from the mafia.

Bannan reportedly said the shooting was an “accident,” saying he only fired once and did not mean to hit Marie.

“I said, ‘What the f***? You just shot me.’ And he said, ‘I’m sorry, the Russian mafia is after me,'” Marie recalled Thursday.

Bannan was booked into the Boulder County Jail in October and is charged with attempted first-degree murder, first-degree assault (extreme indifference), first-degree assault (intent to cause serious bodily injury) and first-degree burglary.

Bannan played at CU from 1997 to 2001. He was a fifth-round draft pick of the Buffalo Bills in the 2002 NFL Draft.

He played for the Bills from 2002 to 2005 and the Baltimore Ravens from 2006 to 2009.

He played in 16 games for the Broncos in 2010 and 2012, with stints with the St. Louis Rams in 2011 and the Detroit Lions in 2013 before he retired.

According to an arrest affidavit, after Bannan was arrested, he told an officer he has hydrocephalus, which can lead to the loss of reasoning skills and other issues, according to the Mayo Clinic. 

The affidavit also states officers recovered items Bannan was carrying when he was arrested, including a rolled-up $20 bill with a white, powdery residue which tested positive for cocaine.

Since his arrest, Bannan has violated bond conditions at least once by testing positive for cocaine.

On Thursday, Bannan’s defense attorney said the former football player will need brain surgery but did not say why.

Marie said she was aware Bannan is a former football player and it occurred to her that he might suffer from CTE — a degenerative brain disease linked to repeated blows to the head.

“I know what it’s like to suffer from neuro-cognitive issues, so maybe that’s at play,” Marie said. “Still doesn’t feel like it excuses his actions that day in any way.”

The judge ordered Bannan to undergo a mental evaluation at the state hospital in Pueblo within 30 days.

Despite objections from prosecutors who wanted Bannan taken into custody immediately, the judge said he can remain free and receive his mental health exam on an out-patient basis.

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