Twelve Months, Twelve Denver Police Shootings: Details of 2016's Dead, Injured

The car in which Dion Damon was killed in an officer-involved shooting. Additional photos and more below.
The car in which Dion Damon was killed in an officer-involved shooting. Additional photos and more below.
Denver District Attorney's Office

Denver Police Department personnel took part in twelve officer-involved shootings last year, the most in at least half a decade. On average, a shooting took place once per month in 2016. Six people were killed in the incidents, but no police officers were injured, and neither have any cops been criminally charged to date.

Details about the shootings are contained in the 2016 annual report from the Officer of the Independent Monitor, the civilian oversight agency for the DPD and the Denver Sheriff Department, which we cited in our recent coverage of allegedly inadequate discipline imposed in the jail death of Michael Marshall. And they're far from the document's only interesting revelations.

For instance, the report notes that the number of complaints against the Denver Sheriff Department fell from 420 to 170 between 2014 and 2016, a 60 percent decrease. But while the department argues that this is good news, the monitor's office hints that the decline may actually indicate severe under-reporting, especially at a time when the population at both Denver jails overseen by DSD personnel is rising. The monitor cites "a large number of inmate complaints that may have required formal investigation but were never entered into...the DSD's complaint tracking database" in 2015, as well as the department's lack of cooperation in regard to inquiries on the topic.

As for the section about officer-involved shootings, the OIM accounts reproduced below omit the names of the individuals involved, even though many of the cases have been covered by media organizations such as Westword; we've included links to our stories, along with photos. However, the narratives are extremely telling, as are graphics also shared here that reveal the ethnicity of victims as well as the police officers who pulled their triggers. Example: Of the eighteen Denver police officers involved in police shootings during 2016, fourteen of them were white.

Continue to read the Independent Monitor's summaries of all twelve shootings, followed by the annual report.

A Facebook portrait of Ramone Lonergan.
A Facebook portrait of Ramone Lonergan.
Facebook

Incident 1:
Westword coverage: Claim: "Stolen" Car That Led to Ramone Lonergan's Death by Cops Not Stolen

On January 11, 2016, two District 1 officers were patrolling a hotel parking lot when they located a stolen vehicle. One of the officers entered the lobby of the hotel to investigate, while the other officers stayed in the police car ("Officer A"). While in the lobby, the first officer noticed a female customer attempting to commit a possibly fraudulent transaction with a credit card that had been cut in half. The officer learned that the female was associated with a different sport utility vehicle ("SUV") in the hotel parking lot. A third officer radioed Officer A and asked him to pull up behind the SUV.

As Officer A stopped behind the SUV, a male exited from the passenger side. Officer A got out of his police car to contact the male and observed that the male was holding a handgun. Officer A drew his own handgun and announced "gun" on the police radio.

At that time, another officer ("Officer B") arrived, parked behind the passenger side of the SUV and saw the male suspect. Officer B jumped out of his police car and then saw that the male was holding a gun. Officer B drew his weapon and ordered the male to drop his gun. Officer B said that the male started turning the muzzle toward him. Officer B then started firing.

After Officer B fired, the male lunged into the front passenger side of the SUV. Officer A, who was standing on the driver's side of the SUV, stated that he saw the male suspect's gun pointed at him. Officer A fired multiple shots from the driver's side of the SUV, aiming at the suspect. The male was struck multiple times, resulting in his death. Ballistic evidence revealed that the male had fired a shot from inside the SUV through the front windshield.

The Denver District Attorney ("DA") reviewed the incident and declined to file charges against the involved officers. The DA prepared a detailed letter reviewing the shooting, which can be found here. The Use of Force Review Board met on August 3, 2016, and determined that the shooting was in-policy. The OIM deferred to the Board's decision.

Officer Rachel Eid was injured in the February 22 officer-involved shooting.
Officer Rachel Eid was injured in the February 22 officer-involved shooting.
Denver Police Department via YouTube

Incident 2:
Westword coverage: Meet Rachel Eid, Denver Officer Shot by Burglary Suspect Gunned Down by Cops

On February 22, 2016, officers were dispatched to a burglary-in-process call involving two male suspects. Two officers saw the suspects in an alley and pulled in to investigate. Officer A took the first suspect into custody, and the second suspect fled on foot. Officer B followed the fleeing suspect on foot, when a third officer joined the foot pursuit. The suspect fired a handgun at Officer B, and she returned fire. The officer was shot but survived. After the shots were fired, Officer C caught up to the suspect and fired multiple times.

The suspect then fled, carjacked a vehicle and drove away. Officers pursued the suspect in their police vehicles. Eventually, the suspect jumped a curb and crashed the vehicle. One of the officers pursuing the stolen vehicle rammed into it with her police car to prevent him from leaving. The suspect exited the vehicle and fired at the officers as he ran away. Officers exchanged gunfire with the suspect, who was struck multiple times, resulting in his death.

The Denver DA reviewed the incident and declined to file charges against the involved officers. The DA prepared a detailed letter reviewing the shooting, which can be found here. The Use of Force Review Board met on December 14, 2016 and determined that the shooting was in-policy. The OIM concurred with that assessment.

Dion Damon and his wife, Dawn Aguirre.
Dion Damon and his wife, Dawn Aguirre.
Facebook

Incident 3:
Westword coverage: Why DA Says Cop Who Killed Unarmed Dion Damon Was Legally Justified

On April 12, 2016, officers assigned to the DPD's Fugitive Unit located a suspect wanted for armed robbery who was driving a vehicle with two passengers. The Fugitive Unit requested that Metro/SWAT officers conduct the arrest. The suspect drove to the 1300 block of Bannock Street, where both passengers got out of the vehicle. Metro/SWAT officers converged on the vehicle to make the arrest.

One officer positioned his police car in front of the suspect vehicle. That officer exited his car and stood behind his driver's front door for protection. Looking through the suspect's front windshield, the officer pointed his weapon and ordered the suspect to show his hands. The officer said the suspect did not comply and instead shook his head "no." At one point, the officer believed the suspect was reaching for a gun, and he stated that the suspect suddenly brought both his hands together above the steering wheel. The officer believed that the suspect was holding a gun and was beginning to point it toward him. The officer fired seven shots at the suspect, striking him three times, resulting in his death. No gun was found in the suspect's vehicle or in his possession.

The Denver DA reviewed the incident and declined to file charges against the involved officer. The DA prepared a detailed letter reviewing the shooting, which can be found here. The Use of Force Review Board met on February 22, 2017 and determined that the shooting was in-policy. The OIM deferred to the Board's decision.

Twelve Months, Twelve Denver Police Shootings: Details of 2016's Dead, Injured (5)
Office of the Independent Monitor

Incident 4:

On June 12, 2016, a suspect called 911 and threatened to shoot police officers. The suspect also allegedly threatened several citizens from his balcony with a weapon that was described as a shotgun. When police arrived, the suspect allegedly pointed the weapon at officers. Three officers fired at the suspect. The suspect was struck once but survived.

The Denver DA reviewed the incident and declined to file charges against the involved officers. The DA prepared a detailed letter reviewing the shooting, which can be found here. The Use of Force Review Board met on February 22, 2017 and determined that the shooting was in-policy. The OIM concurred with that assessment.

Incident 5:

On June 25, officers responded to a domestic-violence incident. Upon arriving, officers allegedly saw the suspect point some type of a gun at the officers from the doorway of the residence. An officer fired at the suspect but missed him. The suspect ran away and was apprehended nearby. A BB/pellet gun was found in the house at the original location. The DPD Use of Force Review Board met on December 14, 2016 and determined that the shooting was in-policy. The OIM concurred with that assessment.

Twelve Months, Twelve Denver Police Shootings: Details of 2016's Dead, Injured (6)
Office of the Independent Monitor

Incident 6:

On July 10,2 016, two males got into a verbal altercation outside a residential building in downtown Denver. The altercation turned into a physical fight. A nearby security guard attempted to break up the fight by deploying pepper spray but was unsuccessful. While the security guard attempted to break up the fight, one of the males involved ran down the street, where he stopped at a vehicle and opened the trunk. Moments later, he can be seen on camera returning toward the location of the fight holding a handgun. The security guard caught the attention of a detective working off-duty at a nearby bar. Shortly afterward, the detective saw one of the men raise a handgun and start firing it in the direction of the crowd.

The detective yelled at the gunman to get on the ground, but the gunman continued to fire at the crowd. When the gunman did not comply, both the detective and the security guard, who was also armed, fired at the gunman. Both the gunman and his brother, who was involved in the physical fight and was standing next to the gunman at the time of the shooting, were shot and wounded.

The Denver DA reviewed the incident and declined to file charges against either the officer or the security guard. The DA prepared a detailed letter reviewing the shooting, which can be found here. The case is currently under administrative review.

Continue to learn more about six additional Denver Police Department officer-involved shootings that took place in 2016 and see the complete 2016 annual report by the Office of the Independent Monitor.

 

Darius Ratcliff.
Darius Ratcliff.
Denver Police Department

Incident 7:
Westword coverage: Unhappy Birthday for Darius Ratcliff, Alleged Killer Shot by Denver Cop

On July 31, 2016, an officer was searching for a suspect seen running from a car that was believed to have been involved in a shooting the day before. The officer spotted the suspect jogging down an alley and grabbing at his waistband as if reaching for a weapon. The officer yelled for the suspect to show his hands and get on the ground, but the suspect continued to run. The officer and his partner rounded a corner and took cover behind two vehicles. The officer heard a noise from between two houses in the dark that he knew to be someone racking the slide of a gun, so he used his weapon-mounted flashlight to illuminate the area and saw the suspect caught on a fence. The officer yelled for the suspect to show his hands, but the suspect instead raised a gun and pointed it at the officer. Both the suspect and the officer fired their weapons. The suspect sustained a non-lethal gunshot wound to his lower abdomen. The officer was unhurt.

The Denver DA reviewed the incident and declined to file charges against the involved officer. The DA prepared a detailed letter reviewing the shooting, which can be found here. The Use of Force Review Board met on February 22, 2017 and determined that the shooting was in-policy. The OIM concurred with that assessment.

Incident 8:

On August 16, 2016, a sergeant radioed for police assistance after he spotted a car known to have been stolen in an armed carjacking two days prior. The sergeant followed the car for a short distance, but because of traffic was unable to keep up. A corporal responding to the call spotted the car in a parking lot, backed up to a chain-link fence. The corporal pulled his police SUV to face the car, got out with his weapon drawn and yelled for the car's occupants to show their hands. Two back-seat passengers and the driver, who was armed with a handgun, got out of the car and began running. The officer chased the driver toward the chain-link fence. The two passengers attempted to escape by going over the chain-link fence, and the corporal was concerned that the armed driver would attempt to escape as well. The corporal fired his gun multiple times at the driver, striking him in the ankle. The driver, who was a juvenile, survived his injury.

The Denver DA reviewed the incident and declined to file charges against the involved officer. The DA prepared a detailed letter reviewing the shooting, which can be found here. The case is currently under administrative review.

Terry Lee Salazar was killed in an officer-involved shooting on August 27, 2016.
Terry Lee Salazar was killed in an officer-involved shooting on August 27, 2016.

Incident 9:

On August 27, 2016, two officers responded to a 911 call that a man had been stabbed at his home by a suspect who was wanted by police. When the officers arrived at the home, the suspect came out of the house, saw the officers and ran back inside to a bedroom on the second floor. The officers entered the home and Officer A drew his handgun and Officer B drew his Taser. At the closed door of the second-story bedroom, the officers heard a woman who was crying say, "[D]on't do this" and then scream. Fearing that the woman was being attacked, the officers opened the door and observed the suspect, who was in the room with two other people, holding a large black knife that he began swinging at the officers. Officer A pointed his gun at the suspect and shouted commands for the man to put down the knife. The suspect refused to comply and instead said that he was "not going back." The suspect began throwing items in the room at the officers while the officers continued to tell the suspect to put the knife down. At one point, the suspect charged at the officers with the knife and Officer B deployed his Taser, stopping the suspect momentarily. However, the suspect was able to remove the Taser probes. The officers retreated down a hallway when the suspect, still armed with the knife, came out of the bedroom and advanced on the officers shouting, "Just kill me, shoot me!" Officer A again told the suspect to put the knife down. When he did not, Officer A fired his weapon several times, striking and killing the suspect.

The Denver DA reviewed the incident and declined to file charges against the involved officer. The DA prepared a detailed letter reviewing the shooting, which can be found here. The case is currently under administrative review.

Incident 10:

On August 31, 2016, several officers responded to a house after receiving a 911 call that a wanted suspect was inside. The 911 caller indicated that the suspect, her son, had a stolen truck and was likely to try and run from police. When the police arrived, one of the occupants indicated that the suspect was in a bedroom. Officers A, B and C went inside the house while other officers took positions outside the house. Two officers opened the bedroom door and observed that the suspect had fled out of a bedroom window. Officers A, B and C ran out of the house to chase the suspect. Officer A followed the suspect over a fence but then lost sight of him. Officer B, who had run to his patrol car, observed the suspect making his way to the stolen truck and attempting to get inside. Officer B blocked the driver's side of the truck with his patrol car, jumped out of his car and grabbed the suspect, pulling him to the ground. Officer B straddled the suspect and was holding him down with his body weight. Officers C and D attempted to assist Officer B in controlling the suspect. The suspect allegedly grabbed Officer B's gun while it was still in the holster. Officer B yelled, "He's got my gun!" Officer A, who had made his way to the struggle, drew his weapon when he heard a shot as Officer B's gun went off. Believing Officer B had been shot, Officer A fired at the suspect twice, shooting him in the head and killing him. No officers were injured.

The Denver DA reviewed the incident and declined to file charges against the involved officer. The DA prepared a detailed letter reviewing the shooting, which can be found here. The case is currently under administrative review.

Twelve Months, Twelve Denver Police Shootings: Details of 2016's Dead, Injured (9)
Office of the Independent Monitor

Incident 11:

On September 5, 2016, a detective received information regarding the location of a suspect wanted for several bank robberies. After the detective and two other officers located the suspect, the suspect fired his gun in the direction of one of the detectives and two bystanders. The detective returned fire, missing the suspect. No injuries were sustained, and the suspect was arrested. The shooting is currently under review by the Denver DA.

Incident 12:

On November 8, 2016, officers from Denver and another jurisdiction were attempting to locate a homicide suspect when an officer-involved shooting occurred. An officer from the other jurisdiction was shot and survived. The suspect was shot and killed. The shooting is currently under review by the Denver DA.


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