A jury trial opened Tuesday for the bystander who livestreamed the police response to the Boulder King Soopers mass shooting.
Prosecutors argued Dean Schiller that day obstructed the police response to the shooting, while defense attorneys countered that his actions, while abrasive and perhaps reckless, did not rise to a criminal offense.
Schiller, 44, was charged with a single misdemeanor count of obstructing police after he happened to be at the Table Mesa King Soopers on March 22, 2021, when a shooter opened fire on customers, employees and police, killing 10 people.
Schiller, who regularly films police activity around Boulder, began livestreaming the attack before officers arrived at the grocery store.
Schiller at one point walked to the entrance of the store, where he captured footage of three bodies before he retreated amid the gunfire. He directed police inside when they arrived and also told passersby to stay away. Thousands of people watched the video feed as the attack unfolded.
Over the next 90 minutes, Schiller ignored about 60 different requests from law enforcement to leave the area, Deputy District Attorney Myra Gottl said.
“They tell him to back off — for his safety, for officer safety, so they can focus on doing their job,” she told jurors. “Not once, not twice, not five times, not 10, but a total of 60 times he is told to get out of that crime scene.”
Schiller did sometimes move back when instructed to, but often argued with the officers, yelled at them or cursed at them. He repeatedly told officers he was a journalist. He at one point was escorted out of the crime scene but almost immediately returned, Gottl said.
Schiller’s attorneys, Tiffany Drahota and David Lane, argued that Schiller never physically obstructed the police or threatened to use violence or force to stop them from doing their jobs, and so his actions did not rise to the crime of obstruction.
“Momentary distraction is not obstruction,” Drahota told jurors.
She pointed out that the law requires a person to act knowingly in order to commit the crime of obstruction, and said Schiller had no intention of obstructing officers, and in fact never came between an officer and the grocery store.
“Over and over he does move back,” she said. “But for a certain select few officers, he could never get back far enough. And the evidence will also show multiple officers acquiesced and consented to Mr. Schiller staying here.”
The misdemeanor trial in Boulder County District Court will continue with testimony Tuesday afternoon and is expected to last no later than Thursday.
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