Vanessa Schultz

Vanessa Schultz, a Lakewood, Colorado, police officer, held a teenager at gunpoint while she was vacationing in Jackson last July.

The Colorado police officer who held a Jackson teenager at gunpoint when he was running to the bus stop says the injuries he sustained from that mishap are his own fault.

“Plaintiff’s injuries and damages, if any, were the result of plaintiff’s own negligent, intentional and/or unlawful conduct,” attorney Katye Brown stated in Vanessa Schultz’s answer to a civil rights lawsuit being brought against her.

Gerardo Becerra, 18, filed a complaint against Schultz in May for assault, battery and false imprisonment.

Schultz, 32, a police agent at the Lakewood Police Department was off duty and vacationing in Jackson in July 2018 when she heard a loud noise near Snow King Avenue and Flat Creek Drive.

She saw Becerra running, pulled out her gun and ordered him to the ground.

Jackson police said Schultz called 911 and reported it as an armed robbery.

Afterward, Chief of Police Todd Smith described what unfolded as a misunderstanding and said Schultz likely crossed a line when she acted as a peace officer outside her own jurisdiction.

An investigation pointed to charging Schultz with felonious restraint and aggravated assault.

But Fremont County Attorney Patrick LeBrun, who was assigned as a special prosecutor, decided not to file criminal charges against the vacationing officer “because it is apparent she lacked criminal intent or evil mind.”

LeBrun did agree that Schultz shouldn’t have drawn her pistol, but not enough to file charges.

The complaint against Schultz said she kept her gun pointed at Becerra and threatened to shoot him if he didn’t cooperate.

“Mr. Becerra was unarmed, did not pose any threat of violence to Ms. Schultz or anyone else nearby, and never said anything that constituted a threat or indicated he was dangerous,” Attorney Alex Freeburg stated in the complaint. “Mr. Becerra told Ms. Schultz that he hadn’t done anything wrong, but she refused to talk to him, choosing instead to pull her pistol, point it at him, and threaten to fire unless he did what she said.”

Becerra’s complaint states that he’s had lasting negative effects from the detainment, such as severe anxiety and hyperventilation and stigma.

“Ms. Schultz’s conduct went beyond all bounds of decency and is considered atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community,” Freeburg wrote in the complaint.

But Schultz’s attorney countered that her client did not violate Becerra’s constitutional rights.

Schultz’s “actions were at all times undertaken with a good faith belief in the lawfulness of her actions and were objectively reasonable under the circumstances she confronted,” attorney Katye Brown wrote.

The complaint was filed in Teton County District Court but has since been removed and refiled in the U.S. District Court of Wyoming.

A pretrial conference has been scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday before Judge Kelly H. Rankin.

Contact Emily Mieure at 732-7066 or courts@jhnewsandguide.com.

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(19) comments

Jim Bishop

Since nobody else has said it, I will: a young male hispanic runs down the street. A white tourist with a gun hears some unidentified noise, and concludes that the hispanic male must be up to no good, and draws her gun. This is racial. Not even the bubble that is Jackson is immune to the backsliding that our country is currently undergoing. Where was the "good guy with a gun" when you needed him/her?

TERRENCE MILAN

How would she know that this guy was hispanic? Was he wearing a shirt with his name on it or shouting out something in Spanish? If you feel you can look at someone and assume their nationality, then when looking for racist you might find one in your mirror.

Jim Bishop

Terrence, I hope that you're joking, because if not, this is scary. Tell me: how many times have you been detained at gunpoint by a private citizen because you were running down the street?

TERRENCE MILAN

Actually I have been stopped by police. Not unusual if you grew up in my neighborhood. If a cop tells you to stop, you had better stop, otherwise you're guilty. Surprised that you didn't know that, but then I'm guessing that you grew up in some pure white suburban neighborhood.

Janet Olson

Agree. It’s called racial profiling and it happens every day.

Chad guenter

Mr. Bishop, it is the case of a goverment agent thinking they had absolute authority over another human being. Race had nothing to do with it, no one else was trying to stop the kid.

Jim Bishop

Chad, how many times have you been detained at gunpoint by a private citizen because you were running down the street? By a tourist no less? It's never happened to me, and in my youth I ran down many a street.

Terry Milan

If you see race in everything that is probably some unassuaged quilt of your own. Many wealthy liberals are guilty of exploiting and treating the help badly. What makes you think that it couldn't have been a woman who had thing with men? Maybe a dominator who wanted submission, handcuffs and if given more time the whip might been out. Could have been a desire for fame assumptions are endless, but in the end they couldn't find any of this.

Jim Bishop

Terrence, I don’t know why you shared the information to all of us that you’ve had runs ins with the police. While such information isn’t surprising to me in the slightest, it has nothing to do with the issue at hand. The issue here is that a civilian - a TOURIST- drew her gun and detained a young hispanic man at gunpoint for the sole reason that the man was running down the street. As you’ve told us all, you grew up in a rough neighborhood… rougher than I, a mere Jackson resident, can possibly imagine, however, I would still wager that you’ve never been detained at gunpoint by a tourist. Nor would you ever expect it to happen. But it did happen to this young man in our back yard for one reason and one reason only.

TERRENCE MILAN

Well you're right about that. Outsiders in neighborhood that I came from were most likely the victims. But you were the one that brought race into the equation and that law enforcement victimized people according to race. You might want to know that race pandering is getting old to the point that no one hears it anymore. Used so much that people begin to think it is a wolf cry (or shark depending upon where you are at the moment). Painting every cop as a racist is as wrong as painting every running kid as thief (harkening back to the neighborhood they were usually running away from something, but what?). More likely, a poorly trained cop acting out a TV drama. Also, if that was her service weapon, most departments have better of control service weapon.

Chad guenter

Mr. Bishop, you make my point. No private citizen/tourist would ever do this. ONLY a cop. This isn't about race, it's about power tripping psychopaths.

Steven Kardas

In defense of officer Shultz it should be noted that the overall crime rate in Lakewood Colorado , where she works, the crime rate is 100% higher than the national average. That is very bad. For every 100,000 people, there are 15.08 daily crimes that occur in Lakewood. Its a busy place for criminals. No doubt Officer Shultz was taking a much needed vacation but had not "decompressed" yet from her job. I believe she honestly thought a crime was in progress and she reacted with instinct. No one was hurt and the situation was sorted out. She is due her day in court I wish her luck. We can all thank President Obama for publicly demonizing our Police, the very people that we depend on to protect us from crime. Great job mr. President ! We ask our police to perform a very difficult job every day and they are vigilant and have to take action sometimes instantly. It is a very important that our officers are armed when off duty and even when retired from the force.

Chad guenter

Mr. Kardas, noone depends on police to defend them from crime. The cops show AFTER the crime has been commited. Pres Obama put more MILITARY hardware in the hands of cops than all other presidents combined!

Zach Jones

To serve and protect... Protect by definition is proactive, not reactive or "after." Seems to contradict your statement.

Chad guenter

Mr. Jones: "To Serve and Protect" is merely an advertising slogan.

What would you say the ratio is for Police arriving to a crime before versus after it happens? I would wager 90-95+ percent of the time, police are responding to a crime that already happened, NOT stopping one before it happens.

BTW, the Supreme Court ruled years ago(2005) that the Police have NO DUTY to protect the public. Like I said an advertising slogan.

rich quinlan

This cop should step up , do the right thing , apologize , take whatever sanctions are appropriate

TERRENCE MILAN

That plus stop watching cop shows on TV.

Chad guenter

The modern Amerikan Praetorian guard, aka "law enforcement officers", are trained to never acknowledge wrongdoing no apologize as it is an admission of guilt. They are RARELY held to account for their misdeeds, this is just another example... " it is apparent she lacked criminal intent or evil mind.” See how that works as an excuse for anyone that isn't a GOVERNMENT Agent.

TERRENCE MILAN

But she is pretty.

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