The Converse County Sheriff’s Office last week broke its silence on the recent officer-involved shooting at St. James Catholic Church, adding that drugs and two guns were recovered from the scene where Jasen Scott Ramirez was shot and killed following his father’s funeral.
The information came in the form of a news release issued late July 6 after sheriff and county officials had previously directed all questions regarding the shooting to the U.S. Marshals Service, the agency whose deputies were involved.
In a press release posted on Facebook at around 5:30 p.m. last Wednesday, the sheriff’s office stated that law enforcement recovered 3.5 ounces of methamphetamine and two handguns from the area around where 44-year-old Ramirez was killed.
The sheriff’s office said that the guns and roughly 3.5 ounces of meth were found in the car near where he was shot, and, in addition, the officers recovered about a half-ounce of meth on Ramirez.
It’s unclear to whom the guns, car or drugs belonged. It’s also unclear if or how the objects are related to the split-second decision to kill Ramirez, including whether he was reaching for them at the time he was shot or if they were located near him or if they presented a threat to law enforcement.
When asked about it last week, following the release, Undersheriff Justin Scott couldn’t provide much information. To each question, Scott Responded, “I don’t know.”
Without interfering with the investigation into the incident, Scott said the details in the release exhausted what his office could say. He released the information because he wanted to provide more information to the community, however limited, he said.
The new information comes after U.S. marshals shot and killed Ramirez, a Colorado resident, at around 3 p.m. on June 30 at his father’s funeral.
The shooting occurred while attempting to serve Ramirez a federal warrant, which was signed and dated May 17 in U.S. Wyoming District Court. According to court documents, Ramirez was wanted on drug and gun charges.
Witnesses say he was unarmed and shot while attempting to get into the passenger side of a car, but officials decline to say whether this is true.
Ramirez was killed in front of friends and family. There were about 100 people at the funeral, according to a number of people who were there. His death comes at a time of high tensions and deep divides surrounding law enforcement’s use of deadly force, especially in interactions with minorities.
Scott on Thursday cited the volatile atmosphere surrounding officer-involved shootings as part of the reason for wanting to release more information. He said he realizes that people want to know what happened. The fact that marshals are unlikely to provide additional details about the shooting until after the probe into the shooting also factored into sheriff’s office decision to reverse course, he said.
Scott said he wanted to issue the release in order to provide the public a little more information and prevent misinformation from spreading. He said there weren’t any specific rumors he was attempting to squash.
The state’s Division of Criminal Investigation is leading the inquiry to figure out what happened and if the actions of law enforcement seem justifiable. According to state law, separate agencies, such as DCI, are required to investigate officer-involved shootings to prevent the appearance of a conflict of interest. The fact that a federal agency was involved in the church shooting doesn’t change anything, Scott said.
Scott said the sheriff’s office has a very limited role in the investigation. He said it boils down to helping DCI identify potential witnesses whom agents can interview.
Moving forward, Scott said the U.S. Marshals Service will again serve as the point of contact for information regarding the shooting.
The federal agency has said that it won’t release further information until after the investigation.
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