This article has been updated to reflect that the Temporary ERPO may not have been granted, but it was not denied and the case has moved forward to a permanent hearing. The judge has signed off on the request for the respondent’s appointed counsel among other things.
Colorado’s Red Flag ERPO law went into effect January 1, 2020 and we’re already finding alarming cases that deserve attention. A brand new Red Flag ERPO case out of Fort Collins, Colorado sheds light on exactly how easily this new law can and will be abused.
Here’s what we know:
On January 9, 2020 a petition was filed by Susan Holmes against a Phillip Morris. The petition states that the two have a child in common (a factor that would make Susan a qualifying person to file the ERPO under the law’s broad definition of “family or household member”). If she was not one of the people that fall into the nine categories of “family member”, she would have had to go to law enforcement to request they file on her behalf.
There is a complex history between a Susan Holmes and Phillip Morris in Fort Collins. Phillip Morris is a CSU Police Officer who shot and killed Susan Holmes’ knife wielding son in 2017 and there is no evidence the two have ever had a child in common, as it appears they did not know each other prior to the 2017 incident described below. It is also highly unlikely they have had a child since the incident given the nature of their relationship. The petition cites “ongoing violence and aggression from 2013-2017” as evidence that Morris is a danger to himself or others and an ERPO is needed to ensure he is stripped of any firearms he may own or have access to. It also states there is an ongoing lawsuit. It should be noted 2013 is when Morris was hired by CSU Police.
The ERPO was moved forward by 8th Judicial District Chief Judge Stephen Howard. He signed the request for appointed counsel among other things. A Permanent ERPO hearing will take place on January 16, 2020
It is unclear if Morris has surrendered his weapons, was entered in the NICS and CBI databases, and is off duty, as would be required by the law if a temporary ERPO was granted.
There is a long history between Holmes and Morris, and it’s a complicated one.
On July 1, 2017 Susan Holmes contacted police after her son, 19 year old Jeremy Holmes, left her home carrying an 11.25 inch bayonet knife and was talking about killing his brother who lived on the CSU campus. Susan first attempted to contact the brother and his wife but was unsuccessful, so she turned to law enforcement. During the call with police, Susan explained that her son was mentally ill.
CSU Police Officer Phillip Morris was the responding officer.
According to the Larimer County District Attorney and body camera footage, after Morris made contact, Jeremy Holmes began brandishing the knife. Morris can be heard instructing Holmes to drop his knife, even as Holmes continued to walk toward him, forcing the police officer to back up more than 100 feet in about two minutes. Morris told Holmes to drop the knife 36 times. In the video Holmes can be heard saying “kill me now” three times.
At this point, back-up Officer Erin Mast arrived and drew her weapon, also demanding that Holmes drop the knife. As Morris reached to holster his gun and grab his Taser, Holmes charged toward him with the knife. Mast shot Holmes twice, and Morris shot him four times.
Since the incident, Susan Holmes, mother of the deceased, has filed a civil lawsuit against CSU claiming lack of transparency surrounding the details of her son’s death, has run for city council, and campaigns to the point of instigation to change police practices that she believes led to the incident.
Now it appears she is asking to have Officer Phillip Morris’ weapons seized for at least 364 days, which is what would happen if the Permanent ERPO is granted. Morris would have one opportunity to request the court lift the order during those 364 days, and at that time Susan Holmes would be alerted and have the opportunity to ask the judge to deny Morris’ request. When the 364 days is up, again, before the order is lifted, Susan Holmes would be alerted and able to request the ERPO be put into place for another year.
And we must revisit the question that was brought up in the beginning – do these two really have a child together? Is it really that easy for just anyone to file an ERPO petition?
We will be watching the permanent order closely and will provide an update. More information can be found via a quick Larimer County Court Docket search.
37 counties across Colorado have declared Second Amendment Sanctuary status, but although Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith has been an outspoken critic of the new Red Flag ERPO law, Larimer County, where Fort Collins is located, isn’t one of them. That said, even if they had declared 2A Sanctuary Status, that wouldn’t stop the orders from going through the court, nor would it stop enforcement actions within city limits unless the municipality has declared themselves a 2A Sanctuary city. Fort Collins has not done that.
Links to sources and bodycam footage are provided throughout the article so people can draw their own opinions about the police shooting. This article is about the potentially malicious use of an ERPO.
UPDATE: Susan Holmes has posted video of her petition on YouTube! WATCH:
To learn more about Colorado’s Red Flag Law, obtain attorney resources, and/or report if you’re Red Flagged, visit www.redflagresourcecenter.com.
The Right to Keep and Bear Arms must always be defended!
Get a sticker for a donation to Rally for our Rights of $5 or more.
(other designs available)