Scott Mendias, a 41-year-old Fort Collins man, was shot by Fort Collins police on Friday when he reached for what turned out to be a plastic toy handgun, according to The Coloradoan. Michael Crosland, the officer involved in the shooting and a 9-year veteran with the Fort Collins Police, has been put on paid administrative leave during the investigation.
Officers were responding to reports of a male with a gun on Friday when, Police spokesman Matt Johnson told The Denver Post, officers observed a handgun in the waistband of Mendias's pants. The police gave orders to Mendias to keep his hands away from what they thought was a real weapon, however Mendias reached for his waistband and Officer Crosland shot him in the abdomen.
After the shooting, officers discovered that the handgun was a fake, according to 7News. Josh Ordonez, a pastor at a local church and a witness who saw Mendias on the sidewalk before the shooting, thought the victim might be homeless or mentally ill. "He stops at the edge of the street, yelling at the sidewalk, yelling at the tree, yelling at cars. He wasn’t making any sense whatsoever," Ordonez told 7News.
Mendias was in serious, but stable condition at the Medical Center of the Rockies as of Saturday.
Police spokesman Johnson told 9News that this kind of situation is "every officer's worst nightmare -- you want to make the right decision, you want to keep yourself safe, you want to keep the other people in you community safe, but having to make that type of call is a pretty sickening feeling."
According to state records, Mendias has a 21-year criminal history in Colorado. He's been arrested for assault, domestic violence, resisting arrest, fighting, theft and more, 7News reports.