A Denver man who attacked a Douglas County Sheriff’s deputy with an AR-15 rifle was sentenced Tuesday to 16 years in prison.
Douglas County District Judge Shay Whitaker on Tuesday sentenced him to the Department of Corrections for the maximum time allowed under the plea agreement. The defense asked for the minimum of 10 years.
“It is important for the officers, for the community, for the state to know that actions such as these cannot be tolerated,” Whitaker said. “It is important to this court to let the people of the community know that their officers need to be safe, and the officers need to know these situations will be taken seriously.”
District Attorney George Brauchler monitored each step of the process, as he does with every case where a law enforcement officer is the victim.
“This case was outrageous. We are lucky neither the public nor the deputy was injured. Given the quick reaction of the well trained deputy, Rivas-Maestas is lucky he isn’t dead,” Brauchler said. “The message is clear: Attack one of our guardians, and the best for which you can hope is to go to prison.”
On May 12, 2017, a Douglas County Sheriff’s deputy on patrol saw a white GMC Yukon that appeared to be disabled on the eastbound side of East County Line Road near South Santa Fe Drive.
The deputy parked behind the Yukon. He spoke to a passerby who had stopped to help but left after speaking to the deputy. Two women who were there were picked up by another driver and left the scene.
The deputy approached the driver of the Yukon to offer assistance. As he walked toward the front of the Yukon, the driver, later identified as Rivas-Maestas, ran from the driver’s seat toward the deputy with an assault rifle.
The deputy fired his service weapon, and Rivas-Maestas was hit in the upper arm, prompting him to drop the rifle.
The deputy, who was not injured, called for help and covered Rivas-Maestas until other deputies arrived.
The District Attorney’s Office determined the deputy’s actions were legally justified.
Rivas-Maestas recovered from his injury.
While out on bond with a GPS monitor, Rivas-Maestas was arrested in Denver on a drug charge. Then while out on bond a second time, he tested positive for methamphetamines.
“The men and women who go to work every day to keep us safe do not take an oath to protect, serve and be assaulted,” Deputy District Attorney Zoe Laird told the court in asking for the maximum sentence allowed under the plea agreement. “On this day, this defendant is every officer’s worst nightmare – what every mother, father, spouse, child of an officer fears. … This was not a tragedy – it was an act of violence toward law enforcement.”