Shooter of CHV police officer is sentenced to 44 years in prison

This photo from July 16, 2019 of CHV Police Officer Cory Sack and his family was taken when he received the Distinguished Service Award and Purple Heart from the City of CHV for his bravery and valor on August 18, 2018 at the home invasion at which he was shot. Standing behind the family are CHV Mayor Pro Tem Katy Brown, Mayor Russell Stewart and City Councilmember Mike Gallagher. Photo by Freda Miklin

BY FREDA MIKLIN
STAFF WRITER

On October 11, Arapahoe County District Court Judge Eric White sentenced the 20-year-old felon (Out of respect to Officer Sack and the community, The Villager has chosen not to publicize his name.) who emptied his gun directly toward Cherry Hills Village Police Officer Cory Sack on August 20, 2018 to 44 years in prison. It was the exact sentence that Officer Sack recommended to the judge. In delivering it, Judge White said, “The shooting of a law enforcement officer – there aren’t many crimes more aggravated. … For his valor, (Officer Sack) was shot,” adding, “The shooting of a police officer shows great disrespect for the rules of society. I can’t mitigate (the defendant’s) moment of decision with what I know. The defendant is left with the choices he made.”

Originally charged with 32 separate counts, the defendant pleaded guilty on August 2 to one count of attempted murder of a police officer and three counts of aggravated robbery.

Sack was the first police officer to respond to a 911 hang-up call that came in shortly before 11:00 pm on August 20, 2018, a Monday evening, from the Devonshire neighborhood of Cherry Hills Village. Sack came upon a home invasion in progress being conducted by four perpetrators. Two ran away and have never been found or identified. The criminal who received the 44-year sentence hit Sack with two of his eight bullets, one that shattered his left femur and one that shattered his right ankle, resulting in a month-long hospital stay, multiple surgeries, years of physical therapy and ongoing treatment. 

The Villager talked with Officer Sack and his wife Anne at the courthouse on the day of sentencing. CHV Police Chief Michelle Tovrea and half the officers on the force were also present. We first asked him how he was doing. He said, “I’m here today. I’m with my family so that’s good. I’m happy to be here because this sentencing is one of the last things that’s holding us back from moving on. We’ve had a lot of therapy, physical and mental, and this is something to celebrate. We’ve come a long way.” Just over three years since he was shot, Sack told us, “I’ve been back on the job for a year and a half. I’m feeling good. Things are going well.” He told us he is on full duty and responding to calls as a member of the CHV police force. 

Like all police officers, sometimes Officer Sack works the overnight shift. He shared, “The other night, I had some free time in the middle of the night and I actually went back to (the address of the home where he was shot). I sat there and reflected and was able to write my letter to the court regarding sentencing and I felt like that was a very powerful moment.”

Officer Sack talked about his children, who are six and eight years old. He said that they’re doing OK but, “They’re afraid when Dad goes to work.” We asked whether he had considered changing professions at any point during the past three years. He said, “I think that maybe, because of the arthritis (resulting from being shot)… Law enforcement is moving forward and progressive. There might be a different role or category out there for me other than police officer.”

Before he went into the courtroom, Officer Sack gave us a challenge coin with his name on it and the date of the shooting. It contains the logo of the Cherry Hills Village Police Department with a depiction of Officer Sack’s badge on one side and the Angel of Gratitude, along with the flags of the United States and the State of Colorado on the other. 

In the courtroom, Officer Sack told Judge White that he was there representing not just himself but the family that was the victim of the home invasion, who are still “deeply traumatized” three years later. They all declined to appear for the sentencing. Sack described the night of the incident: “Upon arrival at the scene, I evaluated the situation from the outside of the home. All my internal voices were telling me that (the family) needed me inside sooner than later. What I did not know is that I was being observed by the defendant through the front window…He decided to exercise his power and take control by ambushing me at the front door. The defendant introduced himself and greeted me with a (expletive) and proceeded to shoot me eight times. If the defendant possessed a weapon with more ammunition, I know he would have continued to shoot until his weapon was empty. There is no doubt in my mind that our defendant wanted me dead so that he could continue with his career of being a gang member and committing robberies. The orange flashing gunshots were the loudest, most violent thing I’ve ever experienced…I wasn’t scared, I didn’t feel pain, I felt the most severe deep personal violation I’ve ever experienced. I thought to myself, what have I done to another human being to be treated so violently and want to take me away from my wife and children?… Who wants to deliver this kind of trauma and pain to others? Then I remembered that I had a badge on and the reason he wanted me dead was because of that. He is pure evil and selfish.” Officer Sack continued, “As I lay on the ground with a fractured left femur and a shattered right ankle, I asked God if he had called on me. He told me I would be OK and he was on his way. I later learned that I was able to return fire and strike our defendant, allowing him to leave blood behind. Our crime scene technicians did an awesome job of finding that blood,” which led to identifying the defendant.”

After that night, Officer Sack told Judge White, “As I lay in the ICU trying to recover, our defendant flaunted jewelry (stolen from that home) on social media.” Describing the impact of the shooting on his family, he said, “I’ve missed out on children’s school activities, family events, vacations…all as a result of interrupting a home invasion robbery. The defendant had no problem taking that away from me and my family. With all due respect, I don’t think the judge should second-guess taking away any years of his life.”  He asked the court to consider that the defendant was already prohibited from carrying a weapon when the home invasion robbery occurred, “but he wanted to continue roaming the streets as a gang member.” Sack reminded the judge that, despite the seriousness and violence of this crime, “At no time in the past three years did the defendant give up any information on the few holes that detectives have in this case. A person who was truly sorry for their actions and feels guilt for what they did would feel the need to help investigators fill their few voids in this case.” He concluded, “I request that this defendant get the maximum sentence possible for the safety of this community and the peace of my family.”

18th Judicial District Attorney John Kellner was the original prosecutor on this case. He was in the courtroom for the sentencing and said afterward, “I cannot think of a more flagrant violation of the laws that hold our society together than trying to kill a peace officer. This wasn’t a robbery when no one was home. This was an invasion of a home when the perpetrators knew people were inside. And those perpetrators brought guns.” He continued, “When Officer Sack ran to the aid of that family, this defendant unloaded his clip right at the officer. We are lucky to still have Officer Sack. An incredible investigative effort brought this defendant to justice, and rightly so.”  Senior Deputy District Attorney Casey Brown was the prosecutor who finished the case.

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