Boulder King Soopers shoot criminal charges against videographer

Apparently, all aspects of the March 22, 2021 mass shooting at a Boulder King Soopers were covered extensively by media around the world, including heartfelt tributes to the ten victims of the attack and the criminal prosecution of the shooter. The shooter was deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial last year, but a further hearing on his status has been set for next month, and according to an order by Boulder Chief Judge Ingrid Bakke made public this week, there issubstantial probability“that continued medical treatment could improve his condition to the point that the lawsuits could go ahead.

But another case related to the tragedy has escaped public attention. Dean Schiller – a self-proclaimed citizen journalist who had just finished shopping at King Soopers with his good friend Denny Stong, a store employee, when the shooting started and broadcast the tragic event live for more than three hours – was accused of obstruction of justice by the 20th Judicial District Attorney’s Office directed by Michael Dougherty. The crime is punishable by up to one year in prison.

A trial has been set for August, although concerns expressed in an arrest affidavit that the shooter may have known police tactics and positioning by watching the stream do not appear to have materialized, and despite the fact that Schiller was probably in shock. after seeing three corpses before personally catching fire. Additionally, it was later revealed that Stong was among those killed in the incident.

Schiller says he was completely blindsided by the arrest, which took place months after the shooting, in part because law enforcement officials did not contact him about any charges. “I would have really liked them to come and talk to me,” he notes. “I think we could have avoided a lot of bullshit if they had just asked me a few questions and tried to figure out what my role was from the start. But there was never any attempt to contact me and tell me. talking about it on a human level. It’s so hard for me to understand what they’re thinking and what their intentions are in this. It just seems like they’re so heartless – no soul at all.

In the absence of any communication, Schiller wonders if Boulder authorities are retaliating against him in part because of his work with ZFG Videography, a YouTube channel who defends the responsibility of the forces of order. As part of that mission, Schiller frequently takes videos of arrests in Boulder and shares them online — a practice that has hardly made him a favorite of the city’s police officers.

“I like to think I’m helping by spreading information so there’s more transparency,” Schiller says. “And if you watch any of my videos, I’m not trying to embarrass them or say ‘F the police’ or any of that. That’s not me. I’m really out there taking videos, keeping my mouth shut, trying to be a neutral observer and trying to stay away. But for some reason they think I’m a bad guy, and now they’re trying to make an example out of me.

As Schiller said Westword following the shooting, he had been close to Stong and his family for years and even lived with them for a time. Earlier on March 22, he and Stong, who had just turned 20, had gone for a hike and then had target practice at a nearby shooting range before heading to King Soopers at 3600 Table Mesa Drive, where Stong and his mother worked. , to fetch food for lunch. Schiller was shopping and heading to his car while Stong was still checking when he heard gunshots.

It was around 2:30 p.m. Schiller fled the car and ran to the store while opening the live stream. Upon entering, his camera captured footage of a body just inside the store and two outside before bullets began flying in his direction. When a woman approached a victim on the sidewalk, Schiller warned her, shouting for someone to call 911 as he ran for the parking lot.

In the hours that followed, Schiller continued to broadcast even as the Boulder Police Department tweeted, “DO NOT post on social media any tactical information you may see” — a message almost certainly directed at him. But he had no idea at the time. In fact, he says he did his best to ignore the flooding in messages from news agencies such as CNN wanting to use his video, despite giving verbal permission to reporters on the spot.

He points out that he didn’t even think of asking for payment for the use of the video until he heard from a representative of TMX, an online platform that licenses user photos and videos to the media. He mentioned the company’s offer as he tried to console Stong’s family that evening and signed up after Stong’s father told him, “If anyone is to take advantage of it, it’s ‘is you.” In the end, he won around $4,000.

Money provided little consolation. Schiller, a Christian and loyal to the church, found himself losing faith in the months that followed. “I just couldn’t understand how a loving God could allow this stuff to happen,” he says.

And then, while taping a police interaction at a gas station later that year, an officer asked, “Are you Dean Schiller?” After confirming his identity, he recalled: “They said, ‘We have a warrant for your arrest.’ I had no idea what they were charging me with, but they took me to jail and told me I had $5,000 bail – then they tried to keep me there., but they said their system was down.” He was only released after his friend Jedon Kerr, a fellow videographer who sued the city of Boulder in 2019 after he was arrested and detained for taking video from the Boulder County Jail on a public sidewalk, brought in a surety agent.

At this point, Schiller does not remember precisely when the arrest took place; he thinks it may have been as early as August or as late as October. But the warrant was actually written and date stamped on May 13, as revealed when the 20th Judicial District Attorney’s Office provided a copy to Westword instead of remarks from Dougherty, who cannot comment directly as the matter is still pending, according to spokeswoman Shannon Carbone. In addition to providing the affidavit, Carbone draws particular attention to his allegations that Schiller “was ordered to leave the premises sixty times and he refused to do so.”

Further, the affidavit states that Schiller’s live stream “exposed the locations, movements and tactics of responders as this event unfolded. It endangered life and safety of all responders, as well as the safety and lives of victims still inside.”

Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley was also killed in the shooting when he rushed into the store in response to emergency calls. But Schiller says he was never told his livestream played a role in the death of Talley or anyone else, and no such public claim has been made.

After his arrest, Schiller secured the services of an attorney. But when Schiller didn’t agree to plead guilty at a preliminary hearing and instead wanted to take the case to court, the attorney quit. Schiller now hopes to field a new representation.

In the meantime, the fact that the DA’s office hasn’t offered to drop the case in exchange for an apology or present him with a plea deal that would eliminate the jail term seems both baffling and chilling to Schiller. He still struggles to process the horrors he witnessed, he says, but each time he has to deal with the criminal case, he is re-traumatized.

“I would like to move on,” he admits. “I can’t even leave the state right now. I wish I could visit my family and be around people who support me, or even go on vacation and take my mind off it just a little bit.” But I’m stuck with this. I feel like I’m in a vicious cycle where I keep coming back to the memory of what happened.

Click to watch the Schiller livestream (caution — its contents may disturb some readers) and the Sworn statement of arrest of Dean Schiller.

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