Douglas County

Man who killed deputy had marijuana, alcohol in his system, report shows

Posted 2/27/18

The man who killed Douglas County Sheriff's Office Deputy Zackari Parrish had alcohol and a large amount of marijuana in his system during a Dec. 31 shootout with law enforcement in Highlands Ranch. …

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Douglas County

Man who killed deputy had marijuana, alcohol in his system, report shows

Posted

The man who killed Douglas County Sheriff's Office Deputy Zackari Parrish had alcohol and a large amount of marijuana in his system during a Dec. 31 shootout with law enforcement in Highlands Ranch.

That's according to the Douglas County Coroner's report for Matthew Riehl, released Feb. 27. Riehl, who was eventually killed by a SWAT team, opened fire from behind his closed bedroom door on sheriff's office deputies, including Parrish, who were attempting to place him on a mental health hold.

The gunfire immediately struck Parrish, who was standing directly in front of Riehl's door when the shooting began. The sheriff's office announced that morning Parrish had died and four other officers and two civilians were injured in the incident.

The autopsy for Parrish, conducted on Dec. 31, shows he was shot multiple times, including in the head, chest and abdomen.

Riehl's autopsy, conducted on Jan. 3, confirms he died of multiple gunshot wounds. Investigations into law enforcement's use of force are ongoing.

Authorities said Riehl was killed that morning as SWAT officers entered his apartment following a 90-minute standoff with law enforcement. Riehl was shot four times, once in his left arm, once in his right hand and twice in the back, according to the autopsy report.

Toxicology findings show Riehl had three times the legal limit for driving of marijuana in his system. There were 15 nanograms of delta-9 THC — the chief intoxicant in marijuana — in his blood. The legal driving limit for marijuana is 5 nanograms, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation website.

His blood alcohol concentration was .03, less than half the legal limit for driving in Colorado. The report also stated that caffeine was found in his system, and it did not list any other substances.

Law enforcement reports released in the days after the shooting show family and friends reported to police Riehl went through a years-long battle with mental illness, including post-traumatic stress disorder from a deployment to Iraq and bipolar disorder. They did not believe he was taking his medication and some worried he was a danger to himself.

Riehl was known to law enforcement in Wyoming, where he attended law school, and in Colorado. University of Wyoming police investigated him for posts he'd directed toward the school's law college and emails sent to law professors mentioning violence. In Colorado, Riehl's family had requested police conduct welfare checks on him.

Riehl also had a strained relationship with Lone Tree police, following a dispute over a speeding ticket. Prosecutors at the time did not believe charges against Riehl would be appropriate, as he had not made direct threats or ignored any requests from police for him to stop contacting them.

On Dec. 31, Riehl used four firearms in the shootout with police, and authorities said he had several other weapons in his apartment.

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