Man acquitted of assaulting officer

By The Associated Press

CORTEZ» A man accused of assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest is free after his lawyer argued that Colorado law allows homeowners to use force to protect themselves.

Jurors in Cortez acquitted Shane French, 38, on Monday after 3½ hours of deliberations, The Cortez Journal reported.

Public defender Amy Smith told jurors that French was beaten and insulted by six “amped up” police officers who had come to his home after his mother called 911 saying he was verbally abusive. Smith said vulgar remarks, including a statement by Officer Casey Eubanks that he should have shot the defendant, showed officers didn’t value French’s life.

French was accused of stabbing Eubanks, who testified he was slightly injured as he held French in a “bear hug.” He said French picked him up and “threw him face down” on the ground, while screaming and flailing to get away from officers.

Smith argued that French was justified under Colorado’s Make My Day law, which protects homeowners from prosecution for using deadly force when someone illegally enters their home and there’s reason to believe that person will commit a crime.

“Cases like this are certainly great ones to take to trial because the community can get involved in determining the appropriateness of the response,” said District Attorney Will Furse, adding that he stands by the officers’ actions. “The jury just was not satisfied we demonstrated that the police acted reasonably.”