Jacinto Zavala: No Charges in Police Killing of Ex-Soldier Who Referenced Michael Brown

Several websites, including this one, have likened Greeley resident Jacinto Zavala's death in an August police shooting to the violent death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri -- an incident that led to riots and a national dialogue about race and law enforcement. Zavala, a former soldier said to suffer from PTSD, was holding a BB gun at the time he was killed, but his family has disputed that he was aiming it when officers pulled their triggers.

Now, the Weld County District Attorney's Office has issued a report about Zavala that reveals he actually mentioned Brown in the context of saying, "I'm not going to shoot the cops." Yet other factors led the DA's office to deem the officers' actions justified. Photos, details and the decision letter below.

See also: David Ludewig Shooting: No Charges Against Security Guard for Killing Man With Airsoft Gun

At 2:47 a.m. on August 13, according to the document, Weld Count police communications received a 911 call from Anthony Erebia, who said his cousin, Zavala, was outside a Greeley residence in possession of "two or three guns." He added that Zavala was drunk, "had previously been in the military," suffered from PTSD, believed he was in Afghanistan and was "shooting bullets."

Police rushed to the scene, 1304 4th Street. The area is captured in the following interactive graphic; if you have problems seeing the image, click "View Larger Map."

View Larger Map

Shortly thereafter, dispatchers were able to reach Zavala on the phone "in an effort to reason with him," the letter maintains. The report reproduces comments over a twenty-plus minute period that are frequently contradictory, with some remarks qualifying as threats and others constituting denials that he wanted to hurt anyone. Here's the rundown:

2:54: Zavala told the dispatchers that if the cops come over they are going to have a shootout. The dispatcher asks him to repeat what he just said, and he again stated "if the cops come over they are going to have a shootout." When asked why, Zavala replied "because the cops are d____ and they are taking away our rights.

2:57: "I don't have a gun, I have a Taser."

2:58: Zavala claimed not to have been in the military

3:04: Zavala stated he is not going to shoot anyone. He then said that if anything happened to him, "you'll have a civil war on your hands."

3:05: "I'm not going to shoot anyone because it's wrong"

3:09: Zavala claimed that he was not going to shoot civilians or innocent people.

3:10: The dispatcher repeatedly asked what kind of gun he had, and he refused to tell her.

3:13: When asked if he will put his hands up and go outside, Zavala said "no."

3:14: "I'm not the only one that is going to get shot up." Zavala then said that when the cops shoot, his team is going to shoot.

3:15: Zavala claimed that he was out front with his hands up, but then stated that the gun is pointed down.

3:16: The dispatcher asked Zavala where the gun was. He said "in my right hand." He then remarked that he was not going to put the gun down, and repeated that he had it pointed down.
Also of note: Zavala is said to have made "repeated references to Mike Brown, the young man who was shot by police officers in Ferguson, Missouri, saying he was an innocent man who refused to put his hands in the air."

As for Zavala, he allegedly ignored requests by the dispatcher to put down the gun he was holding.

Continue for more about the decision letter in the police shooting of Jacinto Zavala, including addition photos and a document.
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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

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