He was a vibrant tow-headed boy, but the custody battle between his parents brought an end to his life. It was entirely preventable, and could have been even more so if Colorado’s Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO) law had been in place. (ERPO becomes effective January 1st, but if a 2018 version had passed, it would have been in place this entire year.)
In the early morning hours on September 21st, Anthony Tesoriero, 48, shot and killed his son, Ty, 10, and then shot and killed himself. The previous day, a judge had indicated she planned to award full custody of Ty to his mother. The mother had pleaded with the judge to not allow her son to remain with his father in the meantime, but the judge wanted to consider it further.
Tesoriero was under a mandatory protection order. His ex-wife had repeatedly been in contact with Douglas County Human Services and police to address his multiple violations of that order.
One of the grounds for issuing an ERPO is “violation of a protection order.” If the law had been in place at the time, Ms. Tesoriero could have had firearms removed from her ex-husband.
Unfortunately, all of this took place in Douglas County, where County Commissioners have passed a resolution in opposition to ERPO. County Commissioner Abe Laydon indicated the resolution wasn’t to make Douglas County a “sanctuary county,” but rather a “pro-constitution” county. Laydon and his fellow commissioners don’t seem to grasp that our constitution doesn’t make county commissioners (or sheriffs for that matter) the arbiter’s of the constitutionality of a law. Ironically, this is the very same county which gave rise to the Extreme Risk bill: the ambush murder of Deputy Zackari Parrish on New Year’s Eve 2017. The county sheriff fully supported the ERPO legislation, but he is not backed by his commissioners.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Legislative efforts have been made to protect families from abusers, but they can never be successful without vigilant commitment from law enforcement, prosecutors and the courts.