From [HERE] A Weld County jury began deliberations Friday afternoon to decide if an Adams County Sheriff's Office deputy deliberately kicked a domestic violence suspect off the roof of a building, breaking his pelvis, or if it was merely the result of an unfortunate accident.
James Cook, a K9 handler and eight-year veteran of the Adams County Sheriff's Office, is charged in Weld District Court with one count of second-degree assault causing serious bodily injury, a Class 4 felony punishable by up to six years in prison. The charge stems from March 21, 2017, when Cook, along with 10 other officers from four separate police agencies, were trying to locate Alejandro Martinez, a suspect in an earlier reported domestic violence incident.
Police had been looking for Martinez for well over an hour when he was found hiding up in a pine tree at 12988 Weld County Road 4. Officers ordered Martinez, in English and Spanish, to give himself up. But Martinez climbed onto the roof of an outbuilding and nonchalantly lit a cigarette.
When he didn't give himself up, Cook, along with his K9, Bayou, went up on the roof after him. Moments later, Martinez was on the ground with a broken pelvis. A Weld County deputy later filed a complaint alleging excessive force, saying Cook kicked Martinez off the roof.
During her closing argument Friday, Weld Deputy District Attorney Tate Costin called Cook's decision to go up on the roof with his K9 reckless, considering the decision was made and Martinez fell off the roof just over two minutes after officers found him hiding in the tree.
"There was no urgency," Costin said. "Mr. Martinez was on top of the roof, surrounded by officers. He wasn't going anywhere.
"Do we not expect law enforcement to have more restraint to come up with a better plan than what went down? This was an incredibly rash response."
Costin also argued Cook allowed frustration to cloud his judgment, arguing that a long pursuit coupled with Bayou failing to bite Martinez caused him to kick the suspect in the back to bring the chase to an end.
"Deputies say they saw Mr. Martinez 'launch' off the roof, 'explode' off that roof and 'slam' into a tree," Costin said. "Those words are important because they're not consistent with someone simply falling off a roof."
Costin also noted the affidavit for Cook's arrest, which states when he was helped off the roof, one of the deputies noted it looked as though he had taken a hard fall.
“Yeah, I slipped and fell,” he told the officer, according to the report. “I’ll go with that.”
But Cook, who took the stand in his own defense earlier in the day, said he never made that statement. And his attorney, Donald Sisson, of Selkus & Sisson in Denver, argued at closing the deputy who supposedly heard that statement also testified this week at trial he didn't think Cook kicked Martinez off the roof.
Sisson argued Cook simply slipped and fell, and in the process might have accidentally kicked Martinez off the roof. He scoffed at Costin's argument his client was somehow overwhelmed by the situation and acted out of frustration.
In addition to having a spotless record during his eight years with the Adams County Sheriff's Office, Sisson also noted Cook's service in the U.S. Marine Corps.
“You think this is frustrating, this is a joke. What's frustrating is going out and having people shoot at your partner," Sisson said, referencing a series of officer-involved shootings earlier this year in Adams County, including one that ended in the death of deputy Heath Gumm.
"They deal with uncooperative, belligerent people who spit in their faces every day because this is their duty and to suggest otherwise is disrespectful."
Sisson also argued the deputy who levied the excessive force complaint had the worst view of what happened. The deputy was at least 20 feet away from the roof and the view of what happened between Cook and Martinez was almost completely obstructed by the pine tree. Four other deputies who testified at trial this week, including one from Adams County, said they never actually saw Cook kick Martinez.
"Law enforcement is not the WWE," Sisson said. "They don't come off the top rope. It's not an approved law enforcement maneuver."
The jury began its deliberations about 3:30 p.m. It had not returned a verdict as of press time.