James Davies, Lakewood police friendly fire victim: Details on funeral, two suspects' release
Big photos below.
Update: Funeral plans have been announced in regard to James Davies, the Lakewood Police officer killed by friendly fire during an incident on Friday. He'll be laid to rest on Thursday; get details below. In the meantime, only one of the three people taken into custody prior to the tragic incident was actually arrested -- and charges have not yet been officially filed against him.
The Lakewood Police Department's account of what happened goes like this:
Shortly before 2 a.m. this past Friday, LPD officers were in the area of 19th Avenue and Eaton Street on a prowler report when they heard shots being fired. Shortly thereafter, the cops saw a man later identified as Joe Anthony Ruiz, 37, firing a weapon from the front porch of his house, at 1940 Fenton.
At that point, Ruiz and two other males were taken into custody. Meanwhile, additional agents responded and set up a perimeter around the house prior to reentering the residence to check for additional occupants. During this time, the LPD says, Davies was shot -- and the subsequent investigation determined that he'd been struck by a bullet fired "by another Lakewood agent in a case of what would appear to be mistaken identity."
A tribute to James Davies on the website of Colorado Christian University, where he helped keep numerous campus events safe.
The LPD release doesn't name the officer who accidentally killed Davies, but news agencies have identified him as Officer Devaney Braley. As for what led to the tragic error, the Denver Post obtained archived radio transmissions revealing that Braley, on the other side of a six-foot fence from Davies, thought the officer was an armed suspect.
"He's on the north side of the fence, Sarge," the transmission transcript reads. "You got to move people. He's north side of the fence that runs between us and the apartment building. Hispanic male. Shaved head. Black semi-auto."
Braley is said to have issued the order, "Drop your weapon." Davies did not, presumably because he thought Braley was talking to someone else. Shortly thereafter, Braley fired.
Davies was 35 at the time of his death, with two young children. He started working at the Lakewood department in April 2006 and was assigned to the Special Enforcement Team, with a focus on tracking sex offenders.
Days later, the LPD released the moniker and mug shot of Ruiz, who had a number of priors on his record, including assault-related arrests in 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1999. As such, he's being held on suspicion of weapon possession by a previous offender, plus tampering with physical evidence -- both class six felonies. At this writing, he has yet to be officially charged.
The funeral for Davies will get underway at 10 a.m. on Thursday at the Denver First Church of the Nazarene, 3800 East Hampden Avenue in Englewood. The procession following the services will leave the church and proceed westbound on Hampden to Wadsworth, then northbound to Alameda, westbound to Kipling, northbound to West 6th Avenue, westbound to Indiana Street and southbound on Indiana to the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. Expect a big turnout of police from throughout the metro area and the state to bid farewell to one of their own.
Look below to see a larger photo of Davies, as well as Ruiz's booking photo. That's followed by our previous coverage.
Joe Anthony Ruiz.
Update, 2:35 p.m. November 9: Lakewood Police Department spokesman Steve Davis, speaking at a 2 p.m. news conference, has confirmed that the LPD officer who died during an incident near Sloan's Lake this morning was killed by friendly fire. The late officer has been identified as James Davies, 35. As for the colleague who fired the fatal shot, he is said to have been within mere feet of Davies when he pulled the trigger. The shooter's name has not yet been made public.
Officer Davies was on the Lakewood force for nearly seven years, according to Davis. He was married with two children -- one around six years of age, the other in the two-three years range. His parents live in England and are en route to Colorado at this writing, he revealed.
Steve Davis at the 2 p.m. news conference.
According to Davis, the fallen officer was in uniform and wearing a vest at the time of the incident; he didn't mention where the fatal shot struck him. Davies (known to his fellow cops as "Jim" rather than "James") and the officer who fired the shot were within a single-digit number of feet, he noted, but on opposite sides of a fence. The officer is shot is said to have seen "a shadow" prior to discharging his weapon.
Spokesman Davis spoke often and in a heartfelt manner about the reaction of other members of the Lakewood department to the terrible incident -- the first time an officer has been killed in the line of duty since the force was established more than four decades ago. In his words, "I don't know anything I could put into the story to make it any more tragic than it is."
Below, see a Denver Post video about the shooting, followed by our previous coverage.
Continue for our previous coverage, including photos and videos. Update, 9:37 a.m. November 9: Moments ago, Lakewood Police Department spokesman Steve Davis concluded a press conference on the subject of a shooting this morning in which an LPD officer died.
The officer has not yet been named. Meanwhile, Davis confirmed that one of the main scenarios involves the fatal shot being an example of friendly fire.
After noting that investigators will likely be processing the crime scene, near a home located at 1940 Eaton Street, for hours or perhaps even days to come, Davis stressed that the department's thoughts and prayers go out to the fallen officer's family before noting that "it's too premature to release much about him.... I can tell you he was a veteran of almost seven years with the department and approximately 34 or 35 years of age."
Lakewood Police Department spokesman Steve Davis speaking to the press moments ago.
At that point, Davis was asked by one of the journalists present if this was a situation in which one police officer had accidentally killed another.
"We have heard that," Davis replied. "I caution everyone that this is a scenario right now. It is not confirmed completely. There are more than one scenarios, as you can imagine."
When asked to mention some of the other scenarios, however, Davis declined to do so, saying, "I'd rather not. I feel some of those other scenarios are bordering on me speculating on what could have happened" -- something he didn't want to do because the tragedy is "so fresh."
Shortly thereafter, Davis outlined events that preceded the shooting.
"We were in the area prior to this happening on an unrelated call -- a call about a prowler," he said. "Several units were in the area to check that out when they heard shots being fired....
"They did see one party outside the house [on Eaton] firing a weapon [he later described it as a handgun] in the air. That's when the focus went away from the prowler call to what was going on at this residence."
Getting into the home appears to have been a challenge. One reporter mentioned comments from neighbors suggesting that illegal activities may have been taking place there -- perhaps even the manufacture of meth. Davis couldn't confirm that because officers had not yet received a search warrant to go through the entire home. Thus, he had no definitive knowledge of criminality beyond the firing of shots.
"We did receive information that there were two or three pit bulls in the house," he added. "We needed to deal with that before we went in there. That was something that was happening on top of everything else."
In regard to the shooting itself, Davis said three men were in custody when the officer was killed. He had no information about whether the fallen officer had fired his weapon before being shot, and neither has he been told that a potential suspect in the incident remains at large.
Afterward, inaccurate reports circulated about who had been killed at the home.
"There was some confusion," Davis admitted. "We didn't even know when we first got the call. There was confusion over who had been shot and how many people had been shot. There was so much information flooding the radio traffic, radio channels at that point. It takes a little while, if not sometimes an hour or two, to get that straightened out."
Davis expects to speak to the press again before the day is out. In the meantime, he said, "we appreciate the outpouring of condolences and love from other departments and from the public. It means a lot. We appreciate it. The chief and everybody at the department appreciates it."
Continue to see our previous coverage, including videos. Update, 7:54 a.m.: We now know more about the shooting incident that took place overnight near Sloan's Lake in Lakewood, which took the life of a Lakewood Police officer. But much mystery remains.
Right now, it appears three suspects were in custody when the officer was killed -- and it's unclear who pulled the trigger.
In our original coverage, we mistakenly reported that the shooter, not the officer, was killed. We regret the error, which has been corrected below.
According to the Denver Post, the original call to police, which came in at around 1:45 a.m., focused on fears of a prowler. Shots were fired and officers from numerous agencies took part in the search, which eventually zeroed in on a house on the 1900 block of Eaton Street.
Eventually, three suspects were secured, but as they were being taken outside, a nearby officer was shot and killed.
By whom, we don't yet know. We'll update this post when we receive more information. In the meantime, here's the latest video from CBS4, which describes the fallen officer as a veteran of the force. He is the first Lakewood police officer to die in the line of duty in the department's 43 year history.
Original post (corrected), 6:46 a.m. November 9: Within the hour, a member of the Lakewood Police Department was reportedly killed following a search prompted by a series of shots fired throughout the early hours of the morning.
Right now, officers continue to process a scene in which violence erupted suddenly, for reasons that are not yet clear.
According to 9News, the LPD first got reports of shots fired just prior to 2 a.m., in the vicinity of Depew Street between West 19th Avenue and West 20th Avenue. The area is east of Sheridan Boulevard, near the border of Lakewood and Edgewater.
Officers from the department were soon joined by cops from other agencies in a search that's said to have gone on for a couple of hours -- with another burst of gunfire, apparently from an automatic weapon, sounding at around 3:40 a.m.
Finally, a little before 6 a.m., Lakewood police cornered their quarry in a house, notes CBS4. In the process, though, an officer was killed.
Expect police activity and possible street closures in the area for quite some time as the LPD sorts out what happened and why.
Look below to see a 9News report prior to confirmation of the officer's death, followed by an interactive graphic showing the area near the scene; if you have problems seeing the image, click "View Larger Map."
View Larger Map
More from our Mile High Murder archive: "Alfred Flores's chewing gum leads to bust for head-shot murder of Manuel Martinez."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Westword's biggest stories.