Man injured in 2016 Summit County police shooting pleads guilty to assault
BRECKENRIDGE — More than three years after being shot by a Summit County Sheriff’s Office deputy in a tense altercation, Nathaniel Steven Leisz has pleaded guilty to a felony assault charge.
Leisz, 36, appeared in custody Thursday afternoon at the Summit County Justice Center in Breckenridge for the long-awaited adjudication of the case stemming back to Christmas 2016. During the brief hearing, Leisz accepted a plea agreement to a felony charge of first-degree assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer.
Just before midnight Dec. 25, 2016, officers with Breckenridge Police Department responded to the Breckenridge Animal Clinic on a report of a stolen vehicle. The reporting party told officers that he left his truck running while he went to pick up his linens from the laundromat behind the clinic and that it was gone when he returned, according to police records.
About five minutes later, deputies with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office were traveling south on Colorado Highway 9 in Frisco and observed a truck matching the stolen vehicle’s description heading north near Peak One Drive. They caught up to the vehicle in town and initiated a stop near the intersection of Summit Boulevard and 10 Mile Road. The driver, later identified as Leisz, pulled into a parking spot on the south end of Christy Sports.
The situation escalated quickly, according to records. Officers with the Frisco Police Department and the Colorado State Patrol arrived to assist on the call. Officers reported that when they ordered Leisz to show his hands, he apparently got out of the car and began yelling “shoot me” and holding a knife to his head.
Officers made several unsuccessful attempts to subdue Leisz, including shooting him with multiple Taser cartridges and a bean bag round fired out of a shotgun, according to reports. Leisz then dropped into a “fighting stance” and rapidly approached the officers.
A Sheriff’s Office deputy fired three rounds from his gun, one of which hit Leisz in the hand. Officers then were able to take Leisz into custody. He was booked into the Summit County Detention Center and was charged with 10 crimes, including felony counts of assault, aggravated motor vehicle theft, menacing and criminal trespass.
Given the circumstances of the incident, Leisz was placed on a mental health hold and was committed to a state psychiatric facility in Pueblo until he was deemed mentally competent to continue with court proceedings — a standard Fifth Judicial District Attorney Bruce Brown said included assuring he was able to properly understand the criminal justice process and able to assist his attorney in his defense.
At the hearing Thursday, Leisz pleaded guilty to first-degree assault with a deadly weapon, a Class 3 felony. As a result of the agreement, all other charges were dropped. The agreement also stipulated a sentencing range of eight and 16 years in prison in addition to fines and a probation period. According to Brown, Leisz will be given credit for about three years served due to his time spent in the psychiatric facility.
Chief Judge Mark Thompson set a hearing date for sentencing March 30.