Man Shot By Colo. Officer Reached For Plastic Gun

FORT COLLINS, Colo. --

A man shot by a Fort Collins police officer Friday reached for what turned out to be a plastic replica handgun, police said Sunday.

The wounded man, later identified as Scott Mendias, 41, of Fort Collins, was transported to the Medical Center of the Rockies, police said. A hospital nursing supervisor told 7NEWS Saturday that Mendias was in serious but stable condition.

The shooting happened after police said they received a call at 2:06 p.m. Friday about a man with a gun in the area of Laurel Street and College Avenue.

Arriving officers contacted the man, identified as Mendias, near Myrtle Street and College Avenue.

Officers spotted a handgun in the waistband of Mendias' pants and ordered him to keep his hands away from the gun, police said.

Mendias reached for the weapon and Officer Michael Crosland fired a single shot, striking Mendias in the abdomen, police said.

After the shooting, investigators discovered the weapon in Mendias’ waistband was a plastic handgun replica designed to shoot plastic projectiles, police said.

A man who saw Mendias on the sidewalk along College before the shooting said he wondered if he might be mentally unstable or homeless.

"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," said Josh Ordonez, a pastor at a nearby Fort Collins church. "Other than being crazy, he didn't bother us one bit. Other than, you know, blocking the sidewalk and talking to the building. "

Ordonez said Mendias was already apparently bloody before the shooting and was trying to take his flannel shirt off.

"(I) Never saw a weapon," Ordonez said. "He (Mendias) never had anything in his hands."

Crosland, a nine-year veteran with Fort Collins Police Services, was placed on paid administrative leave while the investigation continued.

Mendias has a 21-year criminal history in Colorado, including arrests for assault, domestic violence, resisting arrest, fighting in public, harassment, theft and criminal mischief, according to state records.

Just three days before the police shooting, Mendias pleaded guilty in Larimer County Court to a misdemeanor bias-motivated crime that involved placing a person in fear of imminent lawless action, according to court record. He was sentenced to 18 months unsupervised probation.

In the hate-crime case, Mendias was arrested Oct. 23 by Fort Collins police on a charge of felony ethnic intimidation.

Anyone with information about the police shooting is asked to call Fort Collins police Detective Tammy Tracy at 970-221-6582 or Crime Stoppers of Larimer County at 970-221-6868.

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