Steamboat police reports, video shed light on Yampa River death
June 8, 2017
Editor’s note: The body cam video below contains dramatic footage of an attempted rescue on the Yampa River.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — With the investigation still ongoing, the Steamboat Springs Police Department has released reports and video related to the death of the 22-year-old man who fled from police and later drowned in the Yampa River.
Arman "Jack" Qureshi's roommates told police that Qureshi had a serious alcohol problem that was kept secret from his parents.
According to roommates, Qureshi would drink up to a 1.75 liters of vodka daily.
Stop, police, now,” officer Jeff Malchow shouted. “Stop police. You’re gonna get tazed. You’re gonna get tazed. You see my laser? Probes are coming out right now.
Officer Jeff Malchow
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One roommate told police he had talked to Qureshi about getting help, but he was not responsive.
According to a roommate, Qureshi had used drugs, including ketamine, an anesthetic usually used on large animals.
Qureshi was a bit depressed and felt like he did not fit in or have many friends, according to the roommate.
"Something was going to happen sooner or later," the roommate said to police.
Qureshi's parents were surprised and saddened to learn their son had a problem.
"They are shocked that he hid this from them, and they are very saddened to discover his recent problem because they would have tried to help," police commander Annette Dopplick said.
Qureshi's parents said Qureshi was an honor roll student in high school with a 4.0 GPA, and he rose to the Dean's List while attending Benedictine University in Illinois on scholarship.
"All his instructors were very fond of him and always believed he had a very bright future," Qureshi's mother Seema Qureshi wrote in an email.
Fresh out of college, Qureshi had recently moved to Steamboat and had been doing work in IT for SmartWool.
"This was the first time he was living away from all of us, and I believe that this freedom and loneliness contributed to his drinking," his mother wrote. "He enjoyed living life to the fullest and was a very special, kind and loyal person. I want this image of my son portrayed to the world."
Qureshi's parents were visiting Steamboat when their son's body was found May 22.
"We were extremely proud of him as he took on a new job in a completely new town and seemed to be doing so well at it," Qureshi's mother wrote. "Arman was very happy in your town and kept repeating how friendly everyone was there and how much he loved living and working in such a scenic town."
Night out leads to altercation
On the night of May 21, Qureshi decided to go out to Latin Night at Schmiggity's.
The bartender served Qureshi but then cut him off because of his level of intoxication. He paid his bar tab at about 10:30 p.m.
Qureshi stayed at the bar and approached a group of women.
The women told police that they told Qureshi to go away, but he persisted and twice drank out of one of the women's drink.
In the video, Qureshi can be seen in a white tank top taking a jacket belonging to one of the women at about 11:30 p.m.
Qureshi's roommate and family believe Qureshi mistakenly took the jacket thinking it was his.
Qureshi walked out of the bar and stood along Lincoln Avenue with three other people who were standing outside.
Qureshi fumbled with the jacket and reversed one of the sleeves when a woman came running out the front of the bar to confront him.
The woman grabbed the jacket, which fell to the ground. She picked up the jacket, and Qureshi tried to take it back.
A man stood in between the woman and Qureshi. Qureshi reached around and grabbed the jacket, which contained the woman's belongings.
Qureshi began running with the jacket toward Eighth Street. The woman chased Qureshi, and several other people followed.
The woman told police that she found Qureshi behind O'Neil's Tavern and Grill in the alley.
Two unknown men followed the woman chasing Qureshi and began to hit Qureshi in the alley.
The woman told police she stopped the men from hitting Qureshi once she got her jacket back.
The two men and the woman then returned to Schmiggity's.
Police have not been able to identify the two men.
"We're still looking for the involved individuals," Dopplick said.
Employees working at O'Neil's called police when they saw the disturbance behind the building.
It was originally reported a purse had been stolen, and a vehicle had been dented, which could have occurred during the altercation.
Police found Qureshi on his knees in the fetal position in the alley.
Qureshi was asked to stand up, and he lost his balance.
In addition to a black eye, police observed Qureshi was highly intoxicated. His speech was incoherent and slurred.
"Can I just go back to my hotel?" Qureshi asked police. "It's two blocks down that way. I'm just gonna go to sleep."
Qureshi's parents had been staying at Rabbit Ears Motel.
Police calmly asked Qureshi to sit down.
Police determined Qureshi would likely be arrested, and he needed to be taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center to be cleared medically.
Qureshi initially refused to get into the ambulance.
Police told Qureshi he could cooperate and get into the ambulance or be handcuffed and placed in the ambulance.
Qureshi began to walk toward the ambulance and then broke out in a sprint down the alley.
Officer Jeff Malchow pursued him.
“Come on, take my hand”
"Stop, police, now," officer Jeff Malchow shouted. "Stop police. You're gonna get tazed. You're gonna get tazed. You see my laser? Probes are coming out right now."
On Yampa Street, Malchow deployed the Taser, but it was not effective and Qureshi kept running.
Qureshi turned toward the Yampa River at Backdoor Sports and fell on the sidewalk.
Malchow continued to shout demands.
Qureshi stood back up and ran to a dirt path where tubers launch into the river.
Qureshi fell again, and it appeared on the video that he crawled into the river.
"Get out of the river," Malchow said.
Malchow radioed dispatch to inform them Qureshi was in the river.
Qureshi looked at Malchow as Qureshi swam on his back using his arms to push away from the shore.
A few yards down, Malchow found Qureshi clinging to some rocks.
"Get out right now, come on," Malchow said.
Qureshi could be heard making noises.
"You're going to kill yourself for a misdemeanor," Malchow said. "Come on. Take my hand."
Malchow went into the river to try and grab Qureshi.
Malchow briefly had Qureshi before Qureshi pushed back into the river.
Firefighters and police from multiple agencies set up several search areas down river.
At the James Brown Soul Center of the Universe Bridge, Qureshi was observed face down in the river submerged below the water and no longer wearing a shirt.
Further down river, Malchow took off his vest and belt and went into the water to try and grab Qureshi.
Malchow could not see him in the murky water.
A trooper later spotted Qureshi in the water by Snowbowl Plaza.
A firefighter swam in the river near the KOA Campground to try and grab Qureshi but was unsuccessful.
Qureshi was later spotted west of Sleepy Bear Mobile Home Park.
The search was suspended at 2:30 a.m. because of foggy conditions.
Police went to Rabbit Ears Motel and notified Qureshi's parents.
Qureshi's body was found the following day at about noon near Steamboat Golf Club.
"My husband has been crying since the time the officers knocked on our hotel room door to inform us about our son in the water," Qureshi's mother wrote. "My husband is still the same and cannot stop his tears. I can only think back to how many hugs he got from Arman on our trip. I did not get as many because I gave him tough love so as not to spoil him. I cry when I am alone and when I think of all the beautiful memories I shared with my precious son."