Crime

Bella Thallas Murder: Lawsuit Against Ex-Cop Whose AK-47 Killed Her

Bella Thallas was killed by an AK-47 owned by former Denver Police officer Dan Politica.
Bella Thallas was killed by an AK-47 owned by former Denver Police officer Dan Politica. Family photo via feldmanmortuary.com/Denver Police Department
Homicides don't get much more tragic and senseless than the June 10, 2020, slaying of 21-year-old Isabella "Bella" Thallas. Michael Close allegedly used an AK-47 to kill Thallas and seriously wound Darian Simon near West 30th Avenue and Fox Street after "the suspect got into a verbal altercation with the victims related to the victims telling [their] dog to poop," according to a Denver Police Department report.

Although the Denver district attorney has charged Close with first-degree murder in the case, there's another complication. The AK-47 was owned by then-Denver Police officer Dan Politica, a friend of Close's who insists the weapon was stolen. Politica resigned from the DPD effective March 13, but a lawsuit filed on June 8 in Denver District Court on behalf of Joshua Thallas, Bella's father, and Simon claims that he and his company, Tyrant Arms LLC, were negligent in allowing Close to gain access to the weapon.

The complaint, which names Close, Politica and Tyrant Arms as defendants, was filed jointly by attorney Craig Silverman, who represents Simon, and Josh Maximon, Joshua Thallas's lawyer, and it follows efforts by both to get to the bottom of Politica's story. As Silverman said in an interview last month, the AK-47 "is illegal in Denver. Then we learn it belonged to a police officer who belatedly reported it stolen. It doesn't add up, and we want the truth."

Maximon added: "One of the main reasons Joshua Thallas hired me was to find out the truth regarding the involvement of Dan Politica."

At the time, Reid Elkus, the attorney hired by Politica, responded: "The criminal investigation into Mr. Politica concerning his purported conduct and the resulting death of Ms. Isabella Thallas...is closed. Mr. Politica is not and has not been criminally charged." As for questions about how Close got his hands on Politica's gun, Elkus added: "Due to the fact that there is a pending prosecution against Mr. Michael Close, it is not appropriate for Mr. Politica to make any additional comments or provide statements to the press at this time. No further comments on behalf of Mr. Politica will be made."

Elkus has not responded to Westword's questions about the lawsuit, and neither has the Denver District Attorney's Office. However, DA office spokesperson Carolyn Tyler replied to a previous inquiry about the Thallas/Close/Politica matter with this: "Once we file a case, we don’t discuss it outside of the courtroom."

The section of the lawsuit focusing on Politica and Tyrant Arms maintains that they "have a common law duty to exercise proper care in the purchase, storage, sharing, selling, maintenance, supervision of weapons and ammunition that are purchased, including a weapon such as an AK-47 and the ammunition used to fire at Isabella Thallas and Darian Simon."

As a result, the suit claims, these defendants "breached the statutory duties" by violating Colorado laws regarding a failure to use a locking device on the weapon, transferring a large-capacity magazine to individuals not permitted to possess the item, and transferring a firearm to a defendant without performing a background check.

The document argues that "as a direct and proximate result of Defendants’ negligence and negligence per se, Plaintiffs suffered injuries, damages, and losses, including but not limited to economic, non-economic, and impairment damages such as permanent physical impairment, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and great mental and physical pain and suffering."

Silverman and Maximon have asked the court to enter a judgment in their clients' favor that "will fairly and reasonably compensate the plaintiffs," as well as cover "interest from the date of the incident, costs, expert witness fees, attorneys’ fees, and such other and further relief as the Court may deem appropriate."

Click to read Joshua Thallas and Darian Simon v. Daniel Politica, et al.
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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