| Crime |

Why This Arvada Police Stop Didn't End in a Tragic Shooting

The chase ended near Sheridan Boulevard and Interstate 70.
The chase ended near Sheridan Boulevard and Interstate 70.
Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

In recent years, a disturbing number of officer-involved shootings have taken place in metro Denver, including several that involved law enforcement officials firing into vehicles against expert recommendations, often with tragic results. For example, there's the 2015 killing of seventeen-year-old Jessie Hernandez, whose death behind the wheel of an allegedly stolen ride led to Denver banning its officers from shooting at moving cars, and the Halloween 2020 Glendale gun-down of John Pacheaco, Jr., which has been under investigation for nearly six months without an end date in sight.

Over the weekend, an incident in Arvada seemed like a police shooting waiting to happen. But even though officers in the city can fire into vehicles, including ones that are moving, according to their use-of-force policy (see it below), they refrained from pulling their triggers and still managed to nab a suspect.

At 2:50 a.m. on April 24, according to the Arvada Police Department, suspects in what's described as a stolen Kia Soul tried to break into a truck on the 7300 block of West 73rd Avenue. When the owner of the truck confronted the alleged thieves, they're said to have fired a gun before splitting. Fortunately, the owner wasn't injured.

Nearly four hours later, at 6:42 a.m., another report about a Kia Soul surfaced. This time, the car was spotted on the 7500 block of Pierce Street — an area from which a Hyundai Elantra had been stolen.

At 7:05 a.m., the suspects in the Soul and the Elantra turned up on the 8100 block of Kline Street, where they promptly attempted to swipe yet another ride, the APD notes. That car's owner turned up before they could do so, and was struck by either the Soul or the Elantra as the cars made their getaway. The owner's wounds are described as non-life-threatening.

At this point, several elements were in place that could have been used to justify a police shooting, including multiple crimes, the presence of a gun and victim injury.

When Arvada officers spotted the Elantra on the 7400 block of West 84th (the Kia Soul had already been ditched), there was only one man in the car, and when he tried to flee, officers gave chase. But then the police "purposely ended the pursuit near Sheridan Boulevard and I-70," the APD points out, and still managed to round up the suspect after he abandoned the vehicle and ran. The suspect's name and information haven't been released, pending investigation.

Yes, it appears that at least one other participant in the spree got away — for now. But no one was shot or killed for car theft, a relatively minor offense that seldom results in jail time these days (probation is a more common punishment), and an alleged perpetrator is in custody.

That's the kind of story that seldom makes headlines — but it should.

By the way, this is the Arvada Police Department's policy in regard to shooting at moving vehicles: "Shots fired at or from a moving vehicle are rarely effective. Officers should move out of the path of an approaching vehicle instead of discharging their firearm at the vehicle or any of its occupants. An officer should only discharge a firearm at a moving vehicle or its occupants when the officer reasonably believes there are no other reasonable means available to avert the threat of the vehicle, or if deadly physical force other than the vehicle is directed at the officer or others. Officers should not shoot at any part of a vehicle in an attempt to disable the vehicle."

This post has been updated to include the Arvada Police Department's policy in regard to shooting at moving vehicles.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.