Our communities are shaken by the death of Cortez Police Sgt. Michael Moran on Nov. 29, after being shot during a traffic stop on South Broadway across from Handy Mart in southwest Cortez.
Moran isn’t from Cortez but he adopted the Southwest as his home, showing his love for it and its communities in how he did his job, how he was with people.
Moran left behind two daughters, many friends and family members. A lot of memories have been shared in recent days of his dedication, passion for what he believed in and his sense of humor, especially in unexpected moments. Known for being calm in tense situations that could quickly accelerate, Moran would sometimes give fellow police officers a goofy grin during serious moments. A light reminder that the officers could manage whatever was at hand. They could keep themselves – and everyone else – safe.
As reported in The Journal and The Durango Herald, Moran, 46, served as a Marine for nine years, including two tours in Iraq, before joining the Cortez Police Department in 2012.
He rose through the ranks to become a canine handler in 2016. Otto became Moran’s beloved companion, serving by his side until the dog retired in 2020. Otto has since died, but while on duty with Moran, the team grew a sizable fan base after visiting schools and giving presentations about how they worked together.
Moran and Otto were always a hit.
We have much reverence for this man who served his community and country in uniform. And we’re made aware, once again, how dangerous jobs in law enforcement are during routine traffic stops.
Moran’s death is the first of a Cortez police officer in the line of duty since Dale Claxton, who was killed in 1998, when he stopped a stolen water truck.
On Saturday, Cortez’s holiday Parade of Lights ended with a tribute to Moran, with messages on cars, trucks and police vehicles to “Rest in Peace.” The procession of nearly six blocks ended with Moran’s car, draped in a black shroud, a somber contrast to the Christmas festivities and merry-making. The police department then fell into line, followed by a Fallen Heroes trailer.
If you happen to believe in an afterlife with loved ones waiting, we imagine Otto there, greeting Moran with much tail wagging.
Private funeral services for Moran will be held today at the Cortez Recreation Center, which is closed all day. The city is asking the public to stay away from the area. For information about viewing the services remotely, visit Colorado Fallen Hero Foundation at https://tinyurl.com/5yw9rwc8.
We can’t, though, end our condolences just yet.
It’s heartbreaking to learn about – and have seen – a video shot from across the road, immediately after the traffic stop, with Moran down on the street, dying of his injuries. The suspect is seen either picking up a magazine or expended shells, running off, then driving away with Moran left behind.
Many in Cortez’s community have seen this video on social media. More shared it widely. What’s the value in this? None.
If you have the video, please, delete it. If you see the video, insist it be taken down. It feels terribly disrespectful and it’s too painful for loved ones.
If the video were sent directly to law enforcement to help track down the suspect, who died minutes later in a shootout with police, that’s one thing. A reason to film. But it remained online after the shooter was killed by police. This is what is most difficult and hurtful for loved ones of Moran.
The video brings back sad memories for those close to Claxton, too. It’s intolerable, especially knowing that video made the rounds. An awful response after this tragedy.
We in the Southwest share minimal degrees of separations among each other. Our communities are fairly small. Posting and sharing that video has unintended consequences. It’s also a sign of the times. Social media has desensitized us, taking away some social graces, some foresight into how it might feel for a family member to view that.
If you have the video, stop and think what’s befitting to honor a slain police officer. Sharing that video is definitely not it.