January 31, 2018 / 8:43 PM / a year ago

Colorado man charged in fatal shooting of police officer

DENVER (Reuters) - A 22-year-old man held without bond in the shooting death of a Colorado police officer last week was formally charged on Wednesday with first-degree murder, prosecutors said.

Appearing in Adams County District Court in suburban Denver, Dreion Martise Dearing was charged with four counts of murder in the slaying of Deputy Sheriff Heath Gumm, a spokeswoman for District Attorney Dave Young said in a statement.

Dearing, who was charged with premeditated murder of a policeman, premeditated murder, felony murder of a policeman and felony murder, also faces assault, weapons and burglary charges.

Young told reporters after the hearing it is too early in the case to decide whether he will seek capital punishment for Dearing. The murder of a police officer is a death-penalty-eligible crime in Colorado.

Dearing did not enter a plea at Wednesday’s hearing, and his court-appointed attorneys declined to comment on the case.

Gumm, 31, was gunned down last Wednesday after he and other deputies responded to reports of an assault in progress near the city of Thornton, about 10 miles north of Denver.

Dearing fled from officers and was later cornered by police when he allegedly opened fire on them with a handgun, striking Gumm in the chest, investigators said.

Gumm was wearing a bullet-proof vest, Adams County Sheriff Mike McIntosh said last week.

Adams County District Judge Patrick Murphy ordered Dearing held without bond until at least a preliminary hearing scheduled for April. The judge also set a hearing for next month to hear several motions filed by defense lawyers.

Some 128 law enforcement officers died on the job in the United States in 2017, according to the nonprofit National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Sharon Bernstein and James Dalgleish

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