Crime

A Brief History of Denver Police Shootings and How Much They Cost You

The late Dion Damon with his wife, Dawn Aguirre, who's among the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the City and County of Denver and the police officer who killed him.
The late Dion Damon with his wife, Dawn Aguirre, who's among the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the City and County of Denver and the police officer who killed him. Facebook

Page 2 of 2


click to enlarge Altagracia Valencia and Odiceo Valencia-Lopez. - FILE PHOTO
Altagracia Valencia and Odiceo Valencia-Lopez.
File photo
Number 6:

On May 15, 2009, Altagracia Medina Valencia filed a lawsuit on behalf of her deceased husband against the City and County of Denver, Denver Police Chief Gerry Whitman, and eight unknown John Doe Denver Police Officers. Ms. Valencia alleged that, while her husband, Odiceo Valencia-Lopez, was attending his daughter’s communion, he suffered a self-inflicted knife wound to the wrist. When his family called for an ambulance, the call was routed to Denver Police. Mr. Valencia-Lopez was standing by his vehicle with the knife in his hand when he was surrounded by six to eight officers with their weapons drawn. The officers ordered Mr. Valencia-Lopez to drop the knife, but due to his lack of understanding of English, blood loss, and intoxication, he did not understand their commands. An officer then tased Mr. Valencia-Lopez, causing him to drop the knife. After Mr. Valencia-Lopez was tased and dropped the knife, the other officers began shooting him. He was shot approximately seven times, in front of his entire family. He died at the scene. The case was settled for an unknown amount.

click to enlarge A booking photo of the late Jason Gomez. - FILE PHOTO
A booking photo of the late Jason Gomez.
File photo
Number 7:

On December 29, 2009, Vicki Lynn Trujillo filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Estate of Jason Gomez against the City and County of Denver, Denver Police Chief Gerald Whitman, and Denver Police Officer Timothy Campbell. Ms. Trujillo alleged that Officer Campbell began pursuing Mr. Gomez without reasonable suspicion or probable cause. When Officer Campbell confronted Mr. Gomez, he ordered Mr. Gomez to kneel on the ground and pointed his gun at him. Officer Campbell repeatedly shouted that he was going to kill Mr. Gomez. When Mr. Gomez, who was unarmed, stood up and began running from Officer Campbell, Officer Campbell shot him in the back. The bullet perforated Mr. Gomez’s spinal column. Officer Campbell then fired a second round of shots, hitting Mr. Gomez twice in the chest, once in the abdomen, once in the right thigh, and once in the left knee. Mr. Gomez died from multiple gunshot wounds. The case was settled in December of 2012 for $190,000.


click to enlarge The late Francisco Lobato. - FILE PHOTO
The late Francisco Lobato.
File photo
Number 8:

On January 6, 2006, Francisco Juan Lobato, Anthony Lobato, Barbara Lobato, and Ramona Lobato filed a lawsuit on behalf of the estate of Frank Lobato against the City and County of Denver, Denver Police Chief Gerald Whitman, and Denver Police Officers Ranjan Ford, Jr., Joshua Herrick, Gene Sharla, Robert Shiller, Charles Kyle, Steven Addison, and unidentified John and Jane Doe Officers. The Lobatos alleged that the Defendant Officers entered the Lobato home without a warrant looking for a suspect. Frank Lobato was sleeping in his bed at the time the officers entered the home and was unarmed. When the officers were unable to locate the suspect, they entered Mr. Lobato’s bedroom and shot and killed him. Denver paid $900,000 in 2007 to settle the lawsuit.

The knife Paul Childs was holding when he was shot and killed by Denver police. - FILE PHOTO
The knife Paul Childs was holding when he was shot and killed by Denver police.
File photo
Number 9:

In 2004, Denver paid the family of Paul Childs $1.32 million to settle a lawsuit brought after Mr. Childs, a developmentally disabled 15-year-old boy, was fatally shot by Denver Police Officer James Turney. Officer Turney responded to a 911 call from Mr. Childs’ sister, and when he arrived at the house, Mr. Childs was holding a knife. When Mr. Childs refused to drop the knife, Officer Turney shot and killed him. Two other officers were in the house with non-lethal tasers, which were not used. Mr. Childs’ mother informed officers that he was a “special needs” child, but they nonetheless shot him from the front door while he was standing in the hallway.


Number 10:

On February 25, 2004, Regina Keith filed a lawsuit on behalf of the estate of Gregory Lee Smith, Jr. against the City and County of Denver, Denver Police Chief Gerald Whitman, Denver Police Officers Robert Silvas and Jim Turney, and unknown John Doe Officers. Ms. Keith, Mr. Smith’s mother, alleged that the officers arrived at her home after she called 911 for assistance with a domestic dispute. When they arrived, Mr. Smith was in his bedroom. Mr. Smith then exited his bedroom with a three-inch utility knife. The officers ordered him to drop the knife, and when he didn’t, they fatally shot him. The individual officers settled the case for an unknown amount.

Click to read Estate of Dion Damon v. The City and County of Denver and Officer Jeffrey Motz.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts