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Police Arrest Suspect After River Standoff

Released on Thursday, May 25, 2023

On May 25, 2023 members of the Fort Collins Police NET (Neighborhood Engagement Team) were conducting patrols in an area that has received multiple drug complaints from area residents. Officers saw Michael Cortez (dob: 08/08/1991) who they knew to have 7 warrants for his arrest, 4 of which were felony warrants. Cortez got into a vehicle as a passenger and began to leave the area. At approximately 2:30 pm, officers attempted a traffic stop on the vehicle in the 900 block of North Shields Street.

Cortez exited the vehicle and ran on foot with a backpack. Officers initiated a foot pursuit after him. Cortez jumped into the Poudre River and began to float to the east, down river. At areas where the river was shallow, he would stand up and walk on foot, still in the river continuing east. During this, Cortez became separated from the backpack and officers along with members of Poudre Fire Authority were able to recover it from the river further downstream from him. Inside the backpack was over 35 grams of methamphetamine.

Cortez ended up almost to College Avenue and stood in waist deep water in the middle portion of the river. Officers tried to get him to surrender, and he refused to exit. Poudre Fire Authority responded to attempt a water rescue and threw Cortez multiple ropes to assist him in exiting the river. Multiple times, Cortez would throw the ropes away from him and intentionally resisted efforts to be assisted out of the river. The Fort Collins Police Unmanned Aircraft System (Drone) Team responded and deployed to assist in keeping visual contact with Cortez.

Multiple other teams from Fort Collins Police responded to assist as well, such as the Patrol Division, Criminal Impact Unit, SWAT Team, and members of the K9 team. Based on the temperature and flow rate of the river, it was determined that it was not safe for officers to enter the river to contact Cortez there, and they also did not want him to travel further east due to the river’s conditions in that stretch. Officers and along with the Unmanned Aircraft System Team kept an eye on Cortez but from out of his viewpoint.

After being in the river for over 6 hours and with nightfall approaching, Cortez exited the river and was taken into police custody with the assistance of a K9.

Cortez was transported and booked at the Larimer County jail on his warrants and the following charges:

18-18-405 Distribution of a Controlled Substance, a Class 3 Drug Felony

18-8-103 Resisting Arrest, a Class 2 Misdemeanor

18-8-104 Obstructing a Peace Officer, a Class 2 Misdemeanor

18-9-119 Fail or Refusal to Leave Premise, a Class 2 Misdemeanor

All charges are merely allegations by law enforcement, and every individual must be presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.

“This is a great example of Poudre Fire Authority and teams within Fort Collins Police working together to safely apprehend a suspect. Having the suspect standing in the middle of the river in these conditions posed a unique situation but with patience, perseverance, and technology, we were eventually able to safely place them into custody,” said Lieutenant Dan Murphy who oversees both the Fort Collins Police SWAT and K9 teams.