LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. — A woman who filed a petition for an extreme risk protection order against a Colorado State University police officer who shot and killed her son in 2017 was denied her request.
“Court is going to find that the petition as to the issue of standing has not been proven even frankly by a preponderance of the evidence and certainly not by clear and convincing evidence,” said Larimer County Judge Stephen Enderlin Howard during a hearing Thursday morning.
Susan Holmes filed the petition last week and is one of the first to do so under the new law. In it, she alleged Cpl. Phillip Morris displayed “ongoing violence and aggression,” and that he “used his firearm to recklessly and violently threaten and kill 19-year-old Jeremy Holmes (her son).”
However, in 2017, a District Attorney found the shooting to be “clearly justified.” Body-camera footage showed Jeremy Holmes charging at an officer with a hunting knife.
A petition for an extreme risk protection order requires the petitioner to have a connection to the respondent, such as being a blood relative, a marriage or domestic partner, or having a child in common with the respondent.
Under penalty of perjury, Holmes claimed she had a child in common with Morris when in fact, she does not.
She has “materially and significantly misrepresented the relationship between the parties, and she has done so under oath,” argued Jacquelynn Rich Fredericks, who represented Morris on behalf of the state attorney general. Morris was not present in court, but Rich Fredericks described him as an “outstanding, hardworking peace officer.”
Holmes did not present any evidence in the case and accused the judge of being prejudiced against her.
“I do not recognize you having the ability to be fair and impartial in this hearing because you have demonstrated prejudice against me,” she said.
Holmes said Howard had previously acted unfairly in a court case in which she tried to obtain criminal justice records about her son’s death.
“Judge Howard knowingly removed/replaced an unbiased judge from my case,” Holmes alleged in her filing to have him recused.
“I believe I will not have a fair and impartial hearing with you overseeing this case,” she told Howard.
The judge did not recuse himself but told Holmes she could explore an appeal.
“What the hearing today demonstrated is that there are protections in the ERPO law to prevent people from abusing it. Abuse of this important law undermines the very fabric of its critical purpose, which is to protect public safety,” said Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser.
Holmes said she didn’t see her petition as abuse of the law.
“Why would it be abusive?” she said.
Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith, who has been critical of the state’s new law, said he believed Holmes’ petition reveals flaws.
“I hope going forward we see a recognition of the problems with this statute and would certainly pray that they would be corrected so some injustice like this cannot happen again,” he said.
Smith’s office also recently filed an extreme risk protection order against man who is accused of threatening to commit a mass shooting.