Eagle County coroner releases name of man killed in officer-involved shooting in Edwards | VailDaily.com

Eagle County coroner releases name of man killed in officer-involved shooting in Edwards

Joseph Leoni, 57, has been identified as the man killed during an encounter with Eagle County Sheriff's deputies responding to a domestic incident

Joseph Leoni, 57, has been identified as the man killed in an officer-involved shooting on Jan. 31 in Edwards. Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis released Leoni’s name to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, which is conducting the ongoing probe into the shooting.

Susan Medina, a spokesperson with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, said Bettis had relayed that Leoni is an Eagle County resident, but would not offer any additional details.

The incident occurred at a residence located in the 200 block of Beard Creek Road in Edwards — on the north side of Interstate 70 — around 9 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31.

Susan Marhoffer, an attorney with Marhoffer Law Group LLC based in Colorado Springs, said she represents a longtime local small business owner who is Leoni’s common-law spouse. Marhoffer’s client owns and resides in the Beard Creek Road residence where the Jan. 31 incident occurred. While residing with Marhoffer’s client, Leoni worked locally as a contractor, Marhoffer said.

According to the initial release from the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded to a call reporting a domestic situation involving an armed male and a female. Deputies attempted to de-escalate the situation with verbal commands from the front porch of the Edwards residence. When the man came outside with a gun, the officers opened fire.

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No other injuries were reported from the incident. 

Medina declined to say if more than one deputy with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office fired shots in the incident.

Marhoffer said as far as she knows, Leoni had no prior criminal record, history of violence, or “anything in his past that would lead to the conclusion that this was a necessary event that occurred at that house that night.”

While the investigation of the incident is ongoing, Marhoffer said she and her client have faced difficulties obtaining information such as Leoni’s death certificate. Marhoffer said that because Colorado is a common-law marriage state, her client should be considered next of kin.

Once the investigation is complete, CBI agents will present information to the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office for review.

Medina said CBI doesn’t provide timelines of when an investigation will likely be completed.

“We don’t want the community to have specific expectations because we don’t know what will occur during the course of the investigation,” she said.

“If we have to, we will go to court and have her declared the common law spouse,” Marhoffer said.

Marhoffer said her client is essentially the only person to release Leoni’s body to in order to honor his final wishes. Marhoffer said Leoni had “some brothers who he’s estranged from,” but otherwise, had no surviving relatives that she is aware of. 

“At this point, I do know that my client is also in the process of engaging a civil rights attorney and we’ll have to see where that goes as the sheriff and the coroner release more information,” Marhoffer said. “It seems to me they’re making us jump through hoops to avoid turning over information to us.”

The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office deputies involved have been placed on paid administrative leave, per department policy. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s involvement is to ensure that the investigation is conducted in a thorough, fair and impartial manner.

To report information or for questions about this case, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation can be reached at 970-248-7500. 

— Nate Peterson contributed reporting

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