Last February, a Castle Rock, Colorado police officer fired rounds from an AR-15 rifle at a car being driven by two burglary suspects. But instead of hitting his intended car, the officer hit the car of an innocent man and his wife. The man is Mike Cardella, a retired police officer.
Thankfully, neither Cardella nor his wife were harmed. But months after the shooting, they are still struggling to obtain information about why the officer was using the force he did.
During the incident, the car driven by the burglary suspects was approaching the officer. The officer said he immediately sensed danger, as the car was not slowing down when it drew closer to him. In order to protect himself, the officer began shooting at the car. The shots did not slow down or stop the car, which sped off after passing the officer. However, rather than ceasing fire, the officer continued shooting at the vehicle as it drove off. It was then that Cardella’s car was hit.
"I screamed at my wife, Susan, grabbed her and pulled her down and covered her with my body," Cardella said.
Moments later, their car shook, and the Cardella’s realized that a bullet had hit their vehicle.
Following the event, the Castle Rock police department conducted an investigation in which they found that the officer had done nothing wrong in his handling of the situation. But as a retired police officer, Cardella disagrees. He thinks the officer should have been using a shotgun rather than an AR-15 since a shotgun has a much shorter range, and therefore a smaller chance of hurting innocent bystanders.
He also thinks the officer should have stopped firing at the car once it had passed him. Cardella pointed out to reporters that Daniel C. Oakes High School was directly behind his car and in the officer’s line of fire.
Cardella tried to get some answers from the Castle Rock police department about the officer’s conduct, but every request of his for information has been denied.
"I want to know what the findings were," he said. "I wanted to be able to read the reports. I've got questions that need to be answered."
Cardella also says he feels insulted by the police department’s lawyers, who tried to get him to sign a form saying the town would only fix the damages to his car if he promised not to sue either the officer or the Castle Rock police department.
Cardella refused to sign the form and his since hired a lawyer of his own.
Castle Rock police chief Jack Cauley released a statement recently in which he defended the department’s decision not to release the reports.
"Because these reports address specifics of the underlying crime and arrest for which there are pending charges in the Douglas County District Court, the reports may not be released at this time,” the statement said.