After a deputy shot a man, the man’s family sued but the deputy got an award
A Colorado sheriff’s department is taking heat for giving one of its deputies an award for injuries he sustained during a violent incident last year.
The awards ceremony this month for Pueblo County Sheriff’s Deputy Charles McWhorter came just days before the family of the man he shot and killed in the very same incident filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court.
The Purple Heart award for McWhorter was first reported by The Pueblo Chieftain.
Darold Killmer, an attorney for the family of Richard Ward, said in an emailed statement to NPR that Ward’s family didn’t know about the award before filing the suit, but that it was a “truly a brazen act which mocks the very purpose of a Purple Heart.”
“Pueblo’s cynical efforts to somehow make McWhorter a hero under these circumstances is disgusting,” Killmer said.
The Pueblo County Sheriff’s Department did not immediately respond to NPR’s request for comment.
On Feb. 22, 2022, authorities said Pueblo County Sheriff’s Deputies were called to a local middle school to investigate a “report of a man knocking on windows of vehicles.”
Newly released body camera footage shows McWhorter talking to Ward, who is sitting in the back of his mother’s car. Ward’s mother and her boyfriend are in the front seats, and the three of them were waiting to pick up Ward’s younger brother from Liberty Point International Middle School.
Ward had gone for a brief walk while they waited, his family said. In the video footage, Ward explains to McWhorter that when he returned from the walk he mistakenly got into a different car that looked similar to his mother’s. Ward says he apologized to the driver and left.