Loveland police have released the name of the officer who fired his weapon last month during a crash-turned-shooting that left a Fort Collins man dead.
While investigating a traffic crash Nov. 30, Officer Matthew Sychla fired multiple times at 40-year-old David Harper of Fort Collins after Harper reportedly fired his weapon. The Larimer County Coroner’s Office later reported Harper died by suicide.
Sychla was the first officer on scene of a reported single-vehicle rollover crash about 11:40 p.m. Nov. 30 in the area of Colorado Highway 402 between St. Louis Avenue and Boise Avenue in south Loveland. When he arrived, the vehicle was resting on the driver’s side and an adult man — later identified as Harper — could be seen inside the vehicle.
Sychla could see Harper holding a pistol and he gave Harper commands to drop the weapon, but Harper did not comply, according to police. Harper fired his weapon, and Sychla fired back several times.
Harper was pronounced dead on the scene. Police have not said whether Harper fired any shots beyond the one that killed him, or whether Sychla struck Harper with his gunfire.
City officials cleared: Fort Collins’ mayor, city council member cleared in Hughes Stadium ethics complaints
Another, unidentified Loveland police officer arrived on scene as shots were fired, but that officer did not fire their weapon, police said.
The Eighth Judicial District Critical Incident Response Team, lead by the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office, is investigating the incident. Once they complete their investigation, they will submit their findings to Larimer County District Attorney Cliff Riedel who will decide whether to file charges related to the incident.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the CIRT investigation is ongoing.
Sychla is on paid administrative leave in accordance with agency policy, according to the police department. He has worked at the Loveland Police Department since 2015. Prior to that he was an officer with the Estes Park Police Department.
Sychla was cleared along with three other officers in a 2017 police shooting that left 48-year-old Stephen Rich of Loveland dead. Sychla and the other officers fired at Rich after Rich pulled a handgun from his waistband, ignored officers’ commands to drop the gun and appeared to fire the weapon in the air, police previously said.
Hey Google, what’s the news in Fort Collins? You asked Google. We answered. Find it all in the free NoCoAsks newsletter. Sign up today!
According to Colorado court records, Harper had an outstanding warrant for his arrest issued on Oct. 31, 2018. The warrant was issued after he failed to appear on charges of driving under the influence with more than three prior convictions, a Class 4 felony, and driving after revocation, a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Prior to the 2018 case, Harper pleaded guilty to driving under the influence with three or more prior convictions in 2017, from a July 5, 2016, arrest. He was sentenced to four years in community corrections.
Police shootings in 2019 in Larimer County
There have been six shootings involving police officers in the county so far this year. There was one in 2018, five in 2017, and three in both 2015 and 2016, according to Coloradoan records.
- On Nov. 11, Loveland Police SWAT Team Members shot and killed 59-year-old Tammy Pierce while responding to her home near Mehaffey Park to investigate a reported homicide. Police found the body of Pierce’s long-term partner Samuel Harding, 60, in the couple’s garage at 3376 Cuchara Court in Loveland. Officers then entered the home and encountered police, who refused several commands, and fired at officers, striking one in the tactical helmet. Officers returned fire, and Pierce was killed. The case has been sent to the district attorney’s office for review.
- On Nov. 24, 54-year-old Edward Daniel Seguin was injured in a shooting involving Larimer County Sheriff’s Office deputies and an Estes Park police officer. After he was released from the hospital, Seguin was arrested on suspicion of felony menacing, possession of a weapon by a previous offender, and prohibited use of a weapon. He also faces a potential domestic violence sentence enhancer. The sheriff’s office confirmed that at least one law enforcement officer fired their weapon, but would not confirm how many or which agency was involved. The investigation is ongoing.
- On April 29, Officer Paul Ashe of the Loveland Police Department shot Gavin David Gamez, who was suspected of robbing a Loveland Subway at gunpoint. Gamez survived a gunshot wound to his upper-right chest and his criminal case is ongoing. In May, Larimer County District Attorney Cliff Riedel cleared Ashe of wrongdoing in the incident.
- On Jan. 12, Fort Collins Police Officer Keith Hunter was responding to a domestic violence disturbance and shot an armed suspect holding his estranged wife hostage just as the suspect fatally shot himself. The officer shot him four times. In February, Riedel said Hunter was justified in shooting 36-year-old Joshua Moore. The Larimer County Coroner’s Office ruled Moore’s death a suicide.
- On Jan. 8, Larimer County Sheriff’s Deputy Ethan Powers shot at a 46-year-old male suspect during a standoff near Berthoud. The suspect was not hit by gunfire. Riedel cleared Powers of wrongdoing in the shooting. The man faced two charges stemming from the incident, but both were dismissed by the district attorney’s office May 28, according to Colorado court records.
All suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in court. Arrests and charges are merely accusations by law enforcement until, and unless, a suspect is convicted of a crime.
Sady Swanson covers crime, courts, public safety and more throughout Northern Colorado. You can send your story ideas to her at email@example.com or on Twitter at @sadyswan.
Read or Share this story: https://www.coloradoan.com/story/news/2019/12/17/loveland-colorado-police-identify-officer-november-30-crash-police-shooting/2679406001/