COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The shootout that ultimately claimed the life of an El Paso County deputy was justified, according to the 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office; the officers and the innocent bystander who was left paralyzed were all shot by the auto theft suspect officers were working to detain.
The update came at a news conference Tuesday with the District Attorney Dan May, more than six months after the shooting.
Dep. Micah Flick was killed in a shootout on Feb. 5 at the Murray Hill apartment complex while trying to arrest 19-year-old Manuel Zetina, an auto-theft suspect. Three other law enforcement officers were injured but have since recovered, including Dep. Scott Stone, Sgt. Jake Abendshan, and CSPD Officer Marcus Yanez.
Thomas Villanueva was caught in the crossfire while walking back to his apartment and was left paralyzed from the chest down. He has since filed a lawsuit against the county.
It started after police had followed Zetina from an auto theft on Feb. 5. Investigators with the auto theft task force found him at the Murray Hill Apartments, and one detective noted it was a "good time to make an arrest," and the decision was approved by a CSPD sergeant. Another officer later noticed that Zetina might have a gun, but the other officer had already exited the vehicle before that message was relayed.
Officers approached Zetina from the west as Zetina was walking east. The report says Zetina brushed up against Stone and then began to lift his arm up in his pocket. Stone grabbed Zetina and put him in a "bear hug" while yelling "Police." Other officers said they heard "police" announced multiple times.
Zetina struggled and then shot Stone in the left hip, causing him to fall to the ground. That's when Zetina pulled out a firearm and began to struggle with the officers. At one point, Zetina raised a gun in his hand above his shoulder, and then officers found Flick motionless on the ground.
According to a news release issued Tuesday, Flick was struck by one bullet in the neck. DNA evidence found on Zetina's gun matched Flick's blood, and the trajectory of the bullet appeared to exit through the back of Flick from close range. The bullet wasn't recovered.
The report from the DA's office says Zetina shot Flick and the other officers. Zetina then began spraying the parking lot with gunfire, "moving in a circle as he fired." Bullets and cases from Zetina's handgun were found all throughout the parking lot.
Thomas Villanueva was also struck by a bullet fired by Zetina, according to the DA's office. The DA's office also said Villanueva wasn't initially visible to officers as they approached in the parking lot and made the decision to take Zetina into custody.
All of the officers and Villanueva were hit by bullets before police officers returned fire, according to the DA's office. Zetina was shot three times by gunfire from police.
Based on the circumstances in the shooting, the DA's office said it was justified because the officers needed to defend themselves from deadly physical force. No body camera footage exists from the shootout.
Zetina shot at least six times, according to the DA's office. He could've fired up to nine bullets. Law enforcement officers fired either seven or eight shots.
Police initially said that the officers were wearing visible law enforcement insignia, however, the DA's office said they weren't clearly visible. May said it was a "question for the agency" as to why officers weren't wearing body cameras or clearly marked insignias.
The shooting happened on Flick's 11-year anniversary with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office. He is survived by his wife, Rachael, and his two children.
Flick's funeral at New Life Church in late February was attended by thousands, and many in the city lined up along the roads in whiteout conditions to observe the passing procession. (PHOTOS)
Flick's death rattled the city and the state, as he was the third deputy to be killed within six weeks at the beginning of the year. Douglas County Deputy Zackari Parrish and Adams County Deputy Heath Gumm were killed in the weeks before the shooting in Colorado Springs.
The county's Deadly Force Investigations Team, led by the Colorado Springs Police Department, gathered evidence and presented a report to the 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office in mid-April.
Multiple news outlets requested information on updates in the case, including the release of Flick's and Zetina's autopsy reports. Last month, El Paso County Coroner Robert Bux filed a request to permanently seal those records, citing "family grief" and the ongoing investigation as reasons to keep the information hidden from the public.
Read the full release HERE.
This is a developing story, check back for updates.