Colorado Police Officer Found Guilty of Second-Degree Murder
Thursday night, Jack Jacquez Sr. said he was burning all of the documents he amassed in a case concerning the murder of his son. He said he was doing it to get the stress from the court proceedings off his chest.
In October 2014, his son, 27-year-old Jack Jacquez, was killed in his mom’s kitchen by Rocky Ford, Colorado police officer James Ashby. Ashby claimed that he thought Jack was a burglar. However, Jack’s mom, Viola, told The Denver Post that Ashby opened fire on her son inches from her face.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation reviewed the shooting and decided that Ashby lied about circumstances that led up to and followed the shooting, finding that many of his statements contradicted physical evidence and witness accounts. Ashby was arrested a month after he killed Jack. Ashby was charged with second-degree murder. He was also fired from his job.
Investigators found Ashby fired two rounds at Jacquez, one that severed his spine and pierced his heart and lung before lodging in his chest. A coroner’s report said he was “immediately rendered a paraplegic.”
Ashby’s other bullet sailed across Viola Jacquez’s home, including a room in which Jack Jacquez’s pregnant girlfriend was sleeping. It lodged in a wall.
On June 23, 2016, a jury convicted Ashby of second-degree murder. He is scheduled to be sentenced on September 23, 2016, and faces up to 48 years in prison.
The Denver Post reports that Ashby is the first Colorado officer to be found guilty of murder in an on-duty death in decades.
Jack’s sister, Kelly Buterbaugh, told the Denver Post;
“Everyone is throwing around the word ‘justice,’ ” she said. “Justice would be served if my brother was still alive. To me, this was a man being held accountable for his actions.”
Ashby is one of four of Rocky Ford’s 10 officers who have had problems in previous law-enforcement jobs or criminal convictions that might have kept them from being hired by larger police departments in other states.
Ashby previously worked for the Walsenburg police force, where he was subject to several internal affairs investigations. Rocky Ford officials did not review his past record, but relied on verbal recommendations from Ashby’s former supervisors to hire him.
Eight days before murdering Jack Jacquez, Ashby was found to have violated department policies in an encounter with a suspect in his custody. At trial, Ashby’s lawyers fought to have his employment record not admitted into evidence. The judge did allow the records of Ashby using pepper spray without just cause.
Qusair Mohamedbhai is a Denver lawyer who stated, “Given Officer Ashby’s well-known history of perpetrating police abuse and misconduct, he never should have been entrusted with a badge and a gun.”