Judge issues gag order silencing Englewood police, city officials from discussing shooting

Mayor, police chief release brief statements as judicial district investigates

Robert Tann
rtann@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 8/1/22

An Arapahoe County judge has issued an order preventing the Englewood Police Department and all other city officials from releasing any public statements regarding the July 24 police shooting that left a 22-year-old dead.

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Judge issues gag order silencing Englewood police, city officials from discussing shooting

Mayor, police chief release brief statements as judicial district investigates

Posted

An Arapahoe County judge has issued an order preventing the Englewood Police Department and all other city officials from releasing any public statements regarding the July 24 police shooting that left a 22-year-old dead.

The 18th Judicial District is currently investigating the incident and the officers involved have been placed on leave. 

Police had been silent in the days following the shooting about whether the 22-year-old killed, Matthew Neal Mitchell, had been shooting at officers. An affidavit obtained by Colorado Community Media July 26 revealed that police believe it was Mitchell's brother, 29-year-old Phillip L. Blankenship, who shot at police.

Officers were responding to a call at a home at 5007 S. Grove St. in southwest Englewood, according to the affidavit. Blankenship's mother, Kimberly Mitchell, called police because her son was intoxicated and causing a disturbance, according to the affidavit. 

Mitchell told police that her son was suicidal and shot a gun inside the home, according to the affidavit. 

The affidavit says that after arriving at the home police gave verbal commands for Blankenship to come outside before Blankenship began firing shots at officers.

According to the affidavit, police began firing back and Blankenship's brother suffered a fatal gunshot wound. The brother was inside the house with Blankenship.

Blankenship exited the house and was arrested, according to the affidavit, and was booked into an Arapahoe County jail for criminal attempted first-degree murder. No officers were injured in the incident. 

Before speaking with detectives July 25, Blankenship asked about his brother's condition. He told detectives he last saw his brother "on the ground bleeding to death and unable to speak," according to the affidavit.

He told investigators he was the only person shooting at officers and that his brother did not fire a single shot. 

On July 28, nearly four days after the shooting and two days after the release of the affidavit, Englewood Police Chief Sam Watson released a brief recorded statement.

"Officers were wearing body-worn cameras at the time of this incident and this footage will be released as the investigation allows," Watson said. "The recordings will reveal the extreme risk that the officers and community faced in this event."

On July 29, the same day the city was issued a gag order, Englewood Mayor Othoniel Sierra released a statement saying that the order restricts city officials from discussing the incident.

"We are all saddened that a life was lost, a family is grieving and Englewood officers have been traumatized by this tragic event," Othoniel said. "It is our hope that our entire community can move forward and recover from the devastating impacts of that day as we await the results of an independent investigation by the 18th Judicial District."

englewood police, city of englewood, police shooting

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