District attorney clears Larimer County corporal in fatal shooting

The 8th Judicial District Attorney’s Office has cleared a Larimer County Sheriff’s Office corporal in a fatal December shooting. A man allegedly threatened her with a gun when the corporal and a deputy attempted to enforce an eviction, according to a new decision announced Friday. 

Staff in a trailer community on West County Road 38E had been reaching out to a resident, 62-year-old Randy Goens, to notify him of an eviction order issued in October. Dec. 8 was the date for deputies to remove him if he hadn’t vacated his residence by then. 

Cpl. Margaret Johanson and Deputy Santos Romeros went to enforce the eviction. Goens answered the door with his right hand at his side behind his leg, as if to conceal his side, according to the decision.

Goens then drew a long gun — unloaded, it was later determined — from behind his right leg with Johanson a few feet from him and pointed it at her, according to the decision. Johanson backed up, and both she and Romero shouted at Goens to drop the gun. Johanson fired her handgun four times at Goens when he did not drop it, hitting him several times.

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Between four and five seconds passed between when Goens first raised the gun and Johanson began firing. She fired the four rounds in about two seconds, according to the decision letter.

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Romero did not fire his weapon because he did not have a clear vantage point. 

Johanson had a reasonable belief she needed to shoot to defend herself and Romero, wrote Assistant District Attorney Matt Maillaro.

The shot that killed Goens entered the back his right shoulder and exited his right chest, damaging crucial organs. The letter says the initial shots likely turned Goens’ body around, creating the trajectory of the subsequent shot through the back of his shoulder.

He also suffered injuries to his arms and torso.

The district attorney’s decision letter seems to indicate Goens may have intended to provoke officers into shooting him. The letter mentions a note found in his trailer that said “I’m sorry but I can’t go on living like this. Please forgive me.”

“It is important to note that there is no way Corporal Johanson could have surmised that Goens’ rifle was not loaded and capable of causing death or serious bodily injury. In fact, tragically, it seems clear that Mr. Goens also knew this – and relied on it – given the note left in the trailer,” says the letter.

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