Crime

Daniel Abeyta decision letter: Shotgunned feet, explosives, a cop acting as a sniper

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As Abeyta shot at the propane tank, the report says Sgt. Heimbigner was in position, taking cover behind a nearby truck. One supervisor told Heimbigner, "if it's necessary, take him out."

Moments later, another sergeant acting as a spotter told Heimbigner, "Take the shot," and he did.

The next bit of police-radio chatter: "Party's down! Party's down! We're moving up, we're moving up. Party took one shot."

Shortly thereafter, Abeyta was rushed to Denver Health for a "gunshot wound to the chest with pulmonary contusion and rib fractures." He was in critical condition upon his arrival, but he survived to face a litany of accusations: charges of first-degree murder for killing Rosskilly, first-degree assault for wounding Atume, use of explosives or incendiary devices during the commission of a crime and child abuse.

In Denver DA Mitch Morrissey's legal analysis, he concedes that "the facts of this incident are somewhat unusual in that an officer acted as a 'sniper' and fired a round only after waiting several minutes." However, Morrissey notes that officers on the scene understood that "at least one person in Abeyta's home had been shot and was awaiting aid," he'd been trying to "ignite or detonate an improvised explosive device [the propane tank]," and Rosskilly was "lying on a front porch within the subject's range of fire, injured and apparently not responsive."

Also, "Abeyta had given no indication he intended to surrender without incident."

In light of all these factors, Morrissey determined that Abeyta's shooting was justified and would not result in a criminal allegation. All of those are aimed at Abeyta.

Look below to see additional photos from the report, 7News coverage from shortly after the incident, a Daniel Abeyta mug shot and the decision letter in its entirety.

Continue to see more crime scene photos, a video and the decision letter.
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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