At approximately 1:00 on Tuesday morning, officers with the Grand Junction Police Department were dispatched to a report of an intoxicated male in the area of the mall. The victim stated that when he returned to his vehicle after getting off of work, he found an unknown subject had locked himself in the victim’s vehicle. The suspect demanded the victim’s keys and threatened to kill him. The victim stated he felt he was in imminent danger, and he stated be thought the suspect appeared to be under the influence of drugs.
When officers arrived on scene, the suspect was outside of the vehicle. The suspect backed away from the officers and refused their commands. Further, the suspect was yelling at the officers, making statements such as, “You are fake cops,” “I have a gun,” and, “I’m going to kill you.” While making these statements, the suspect was holding something silver and reflective in his hand–at one point, raising it and pointing it at the officers. This object was later found to be a silver, metal lighter, fashioned to look like a small handgun.
After continuing to ignore commands from the officers, the suspect attempted to run. After a short foot pursuit, officers apprehended the male and attempted to place him into custody. The suspect continued to resist officers and was subsequently tased. Once in custody, the male suspect, identified as Eric Wilkinson, 29, was transported to the hospital for medical evaluation. At the hospital, Wilkinson continued to make violent threats towards officers. A search of Wilkinson’s clothing revealed a hypodermic needle, which Wilkinson stated was “for meth.”
“Police officers in Grand Junction, and all across the country, find themselves in similar situations with alarming regularity,” said Chief John Camper, of the Grand Junction Police Department. “The restraint demonstrated by these officers is commendable, and we should all appreciate the gravity of such a decision. These officers would have faced intense scrutiny and criticism had they chosen to use deadly force, yet the decision not to use deadly force carries significant risk had this turned out to be a real gun. It’s a shame that the current national discussion on law enforcement use of force places officers in a no-win situation. In contrast to the narrative we so often hear portrayed, these officers, like most officers all across the country, showed incredible restraint, a willingness to try de-escalation and less lethal force, and a commitment to protecting life.”
Ultimately, Wilkinson was arrested and remanded to the Mesa County Jail on the following charges:
Felony Menacing (F5), Misdemeanor Menacing (M3), Criminal Attempt (aggravated robbery for attempting to steal the victim’s keys by threatening his life) (F4), 1st Degree Criminal Trespass of Auto (F5), Theft (M3), Obstructing a Peace Officer (M2), and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (DPO).