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Judge In Fort Collins Denies Red Flag Law Request By Woman Whose Son Was Killed By Officer

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) - A judge has denied a Fort Collins woman's Extreme Risk Protection Order request against a Colorado State University police officer, citing her inability to prove a domestic or familial relationship with the officer. Susan Holmes alleged Cpl. Phillip Morris was "violent and should have his gun taken away" under Colorado's ERPO law, known as the red flag law.

(credit: Fort Collins Police)

Morris was one of two officers who fatally shot Jeremy Holmes on July 1, 2017 after he charged them with a knife. The other officer, a female who was not included in Holmes' ERPO request, worked for Fort Collins Police.

In order for a proceeding to take place, a petitioner must prove the respondent meets at least one of seven criteria showing their relationship as family members, household members or more. Holmes, the petitioner, claimed Morris shared a child with her. However, when asked to present evidence of her accusations by Judge Stephen Howard, Holmes refused. Holmes cited Howard's refusal to recuse himself from the proceeding, citing her belief that he was biased from a previous case involving herself.

Susan Holmes (credit: CBS)

Howard offered Holmes several opportunities to present factual evidence of her claim that Morris shared a child with her. However, Holmes repeatedly denied her opportunities, claiming she didn't want to present her evidence to someone who was impartial.

"This judge should not be overseeing this case," Holmes told CBS4's Dillon Thomas. "I did not recognize his right to reside in this case."

Morris was not in attendance, however his legal counsel presented an affidavit claiming he was not the father of any of Holmes' children.

"I do not have a child with Susan Holmes," Morris' affidavit claimed.

(credit: CBS)

Howard ruled based off of the evidence presented by the respondent's lawyers, and the lack of evidence presented by Holmes. Howard denied the ERPO request, citing lack of evidence to meet the criteria outlined in the law to proceed with the hearings.

Holmes was warned by the judge that anything she said in court could be used against her in any future proceeding. Some suggested she could face perjury charges for lying about the officer's relationship to her.

"I didn't falsely make a claim. I haven't presented my arguments or evidence," Holmes said.

Holmes told CBS4's Dillon Thomas that Morris was violent, and has a history of violence.

Susan Holmes (credit: CBS)

"You laughed when (the respondent's attorney) said the officer is an outstanding member of the community and an outstanding officer. Can you tell us why you have that expression?" Thomas asked.

"Because, he is violent. He has a history of violence. He killed my son," Holmes responded.

"Do you still believe you have a child with the officer?" Thomas said.

"I cannot address those kind of questions," Holmes said.

Justin Smith (credit: CBS)

She suggested she would appeal the findings of the court, in hope or revisiting the case with a new judge.

Holmes denied that her ERPO filing was an abuse of the new law, and said the government should create an amendment that includes police officers into the realm of people able to have their guns confiscated upon safety concerns from the public.

"The amendment to this law should be that any Colorado citizen should be able to file an ERPO against a violent and threatening law-enforcement officer, I absolutely believe that," Holmes said.

Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith said the judge's ruling was appropriate and showed the law had rules to make sure bogus claims could not end with the confiscation of an innocent person's firearm.

"I'm very pleased with the ruling, the judge obviously ruled correctly in this," Smith said. "I just think it brings forward the concerns that were expressed by many citizens around this state, with the ability of the law like this to be abused. And that was demonstrated in the court room today."

Smith wouldn't publicly comment on if Holmes' requests for an amendment to the law should, or should not, be created.

"When a statute like this is abused, as it was today, the citizens need to know we are going to stand up and we are going to stand up for the rights of citizens," Smith said. "I recognize that there was a tragedy that young man lost his life in 2017. However, a mother's grief only goes so far."

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