Last month, we told you about the officer-involved shooting of Isaac Vigil, who pulled a gun and opened fire after being busted and transported to a police station. When he was hit, he's said to have declared, "I have meth up my ass!"
Given the presence of Vigil's weapon, there was even less suspense than usual about whether the shooting would be deemed lawful -- and it has been. But the Denver District Attorney's Office decision letter on the incident, on view below, contains some interesting revelations about how cops managed not to find the gat until it was too late, despite searching Vigil not once, not twice, but three times -- and maybe four, depending on how you count.
The unmarked police car, as seen in photos from the DA's office decision letter.
According to the document, cops were conducting a surveillance operation outside a McDonald's at Alameda and Eliot when they saw a man later ID'd as Vigil "getting high" in a vehicle. After deciding to respond, a detective pulled up behind Vigil's ride in an unmarked police car, with two colleagues following.
Vigil reacted to this surprise visit by acting "very jumpy, talking, yelling at us -- cussin' us," the report quotes one detective as saying. He initially refused to get out of his car, and in struggling to gain control over him, a knife fell from an area near his waistband.
This discovery presumably made the cops even more cognizant that Vigil could have an additional weapon on him, but the decision letter says they had difficulty frisking him because he was "highly agitated" and "squirrelly."
The vehicle that transported Vigil to the police station.
Once Vigil was in custody, the detectives called for an assist from uniformed officers in a squad car, since their cruisers didn't include a prisoner cage. They then patted him down and found two more items of note: a bank card with his name on it and a crack pipe.
The scene of the shooting.
Upon learning that Vigil had an active Adams County warrant for assault, the detectives frisked him again -- and yes, this word is also italicized in the report. Vigil didn't appear to like the hands-on treatment much, given his alleged announcement that "I'm gonna kill you, motherfucker. I'm gonna kill you!" But after a detective found several small-caliber cartridges in Vigil's car, he was searched one more time.
For those scoring at home, that's at least three searches, not including the attempt when the knife fell from his waistband.
Isaac Vigil's gun photographed on the hood of the police vehicle.
Nonetheless, a certain something was missed. After Vigil was transported to the District 4 police station, he reportedly said, "Man! You're gonna hear a 'pop'! You're gonna hear a 'pop'!" An instant later, he fired a silver gun he'd managed to produce despite having his hands cuffed behind his back.
A corporal on the scene subsequently shot Vigil in the abdomen, at which point he said, "I'm done" -- and the decision letter commends the officer for his quick action.
There's no mention of the detectives inability to find Vigil's gun despite multiple searches; that's outside the purview of the decision letter.
However, the document notes that an administrative review is standard procedure after an incident like this one. Presumably, supervisors will address the issue of conducting better searches, whether or not a suspect is "jumpy" and "squirrelly."
Here's a larger look at a Vigil mug shot from 2007, followed by a video of Denver Police Chief Robert White talking about the incident, the original probable cause statement and the complete decision letter.
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Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
More from our Colorado Crimes archive circa May 21: "Isaac Vigil after being wounded by cop he tried to shoot: 'I have meth up my ass!'"