Zachary Helbig, the only Colorado law enforcement officer billed in an officer-involved shooting final calendar year, was uncovered not responsible Friday of prices stemming from the deadly shooting of a man who requested to die.
Helbig, a Fort Lupton police officer, was struggling with 1 count of manslaughter just after taking pictures and killing 46-yr-aged Shawn Billinger on Jan. 16, 2019. A Weld County jury deliberated for 3.5 hrs right before rendering the verdict Friday night time.
The officer embraced household associates and supporters as he exited the courthouse immediately after the verdict.
Through closing arguments, Gary Lozow, Helbig’s protection attorney, stated that as Billinger approached Helbig that working day, the officer experienced only 10 seconds to make an immensely challenging final decision.
“The truth is, he did what he was educated to do,” Lozow instructed the jury, pausing silently for 10 seconds to exhibit his issue. “He acted in self-defense. He did what he wanted to do to save his lifetime.”
Helbig experienced no malevolence toward Billinger, Lozow said. He did not want the person to die. But when the 6-foot-4 Billinger, high on meth, came at him, the officer did not have time to weigh his possibilities and use non-lethal drive.
“I do not know what funeral we’d be at if Helbig did that,” the lawyer claimed.
But Helbig never had to be in that everyday living-or-loss of life problem, Weld County District Legal professional Michael Rourke argued. The officer experienced “every prospect to make time and length.” Helbig knew backup was coming. He knew Billinger was significant, substantial and potentially armed.
“Why not prevent there and assess the condition?” Rourke questioned the jury.
In the end, the district lawyer reported, this situation arrived down to a couple very simple thoughts: Why did Billinger have to die?
“What do you be expecting from law enforcement prior to they just take a life?” Rourke explained. “That can not be the normal in this neighborhood.”
In a statement, the Billinger family members said “Shawn was a person in crisis. He was mentally sick. Shawn did not have to die on January, 16, 2019. Shawn was a dad, grandpa, brother, son and close friend. He is missed by all who loved him.”
The courtroom on Friday was packed with Helbig’s spouse and children and supporters, most sporting a pink ribbon fastened to their shirts. Helbig, who took the stand before in the working day, sat silently at the protection desk all through closing arguments, clad in a grey go well with and pink tie.
The shooting occurred on Jan. 16 just after law enforcement been given a call about a disturbance at a Shell gas station in Fort Lupton. As he interviewed witnesses, Helbig noticed Billinger push absent in a gold minivan. The officer adopted Billinger into the yard of a household, in which he commanded the person to stop managing, in accordance to Helbig’s indictment.
Billinger, who had very little in his arms, then walked swiftly towards Helbig, yelling, “Kill me.” Helbig shot him the moment in the upper body, killing him.
In April, Helbig was indicted by a grand jury and billed with a single depend of manslaughter.
Of the 67 incidents last year in which Colorado legislation enforcement killed or injured a person, Helbig was the only one particular to facial area expenses.