Trooper relives shooting near Silt at trial
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Vail CO, Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Former Colorado State Patrol Trooper Brian Koch yelled and took quick, gasping breaths when he called in to dispatch that he’d been shot during an October 2006 traffic stop.
“I need an ambulance. I’m in shock,” he said in a recording of the call. “I was shot in the arm. I’m bleeding bad.”
He’d lost a lot of blood and had trouble speaking. He couldn’t pinpoint his location to dispatchers.
On Monday, 9th Judicial District Attorney Amy Fitch played the recording during the opening of Nichole Brownell’s trial. Brownell is accused of being an accomplice to Koch’s shooting by providing Steven Appl a place to hide. Koch, who said he’s now a safety consultant with Conoco Phillips because of his injury, became visibly upset after reliving the shooting through hearing the recording. He said he’s suffered permanent injuries and “inside my hand it’s always burning.”
Police believe Appl shot Koch on Oct. 24, 2006, and later killed himself at a police road block. Koch said he pulled Appl over after clocking him traveling 60 mph in a 30 mph zone near the Mamm Creek overpass south of Silt. It was dark and late at night.
Koch was going to call in the license plate before approaching the car. But he saw the driver he later identified as Appl get out. Koch got out and yelled for the man to get back in his car. He did. Koch then approached cautiously, from the rear of the car.
Appl sat still and looked straight ahead. Then, Koch said, he shined his flashlight on the man’s face but couldn’t see his hands. He got a little closer.
“I got far enough, shined the light down and saw him covering the barrel of a large-caliber handgun with his left hand,” Koch said. “Initially it was a split-second shock.”
He remembers saying “No” and was shot as he retreated backwards. He returned fire and fell on the road at the rear of the vehicle. The man drove a short distance and stopped again. Koch wondered if he would get out and try to finish him off or put it in reverse and run him over.
“I could see the driver still trying to get another shot,” Koch said.
Koch fired more bullets and the car took off. He tried to stand but had to crawl back to his patrol car, he said. He called in the shooting over the radio and tried to get up again, he said, but he slipped in the puddle of blood from his arm. Two men eventually spotted the vehicle and helped out Koch, providing him a belt for a tourniquet. A nearby resident called 911 with the exact location.
In opening arguments, Fitch outlined the shooting and the investigation. She said the evidence will show that Brownell provided Appl with a place to hide.
Brownell’s attorney, Chip McCrory, said Brownell didn’t call police to report that Appl told her he’d shot a cop, but that doesn’t constitute being an accessory. He said Brownell didn’t offer Appl a place to hide and did nothing illegal.
On Monday, Fitch also played a video of testimony from Cruz Figeroa Alvarez, who described finding and helping Koch. A Garfield County Sheriff’s deputy also testified about responding to the scene and helping Koch. Both said Koch was screaming, bleeding profusely and was in a lot of pain.
Fitch said the first break in the case came when someone tipped authorities about the location of a blue car matching Koch’s description of Appl’s car. Authorities found it marked with bullet holes and parked on County Road 331, near the house where Wayne Hangs, Brownell and another person lived. Authorities later received a tip that Appl was at the house from a friend Brownell had told.
Fitch said Appl at one point buried himself outside the Silt-area house to successfully avoid a police search. She said Brownell later brought Cori Graham to the house, and Graham tried to drive Appl to Arizona.
Brownell’s trial is expected to last through Wednesday. Hangs has entered a guilty plea, and Graham has pleaded not guilty.
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