James Davies shooting: DA sees no crime in tragic friendly fire killing of Lakewood cop

In November, we reported about the death of Lakewood Police Agent James Davies, killed by friendly fire while investigating what turned out to be a rather minor incident. Now, First Judicial District DA Peter Weir has determined that no criminal charges should be filed against Agent D.J. Braley, who fired the fatal bullet. Weir's letter about the incident, on view below, provides the most information to date about a bust gone tragically wrong.

The main events of the night are laid out in a portion of the letter (addressed to Lakewood Police Chief Kevin Paletta) labeled "Relevant Facts." On November 8, the document notes, Davies and another agent assigned to the department's Special Enforcement Team had volunteered to work overtime and were assigned to a late shift.

Early the following morning, the pair received a call to the area of Ingalls and 20th Avenue involving a loud party. They parked their car in the vicinity, but as they were walking, they heard gunshots in an area south of them and headed that way, along with a slew of others from the department, prompted by numerous calls from concerned residents.

Officers fanned out in search of the shooter, and before long, a sergeant spotted a figure outside a house at 1940 Eaton, followed by a muzzle flash. She responded by pressing herself against a tree, while other officers in the vicinity sought cover.

Davies and the officer with him were a few buildings away, and communicated their position via radio. Meanwhile, a SWAT negotiator phoned the house in question, and after a couple of tries, a woman answered the phone. She insisted that no one there had fired a gun, adding that two people were with her. The negotiator then ordered the trio outside, and as a Denver Police helicopter swooped overhead, they complied and were taken into custody. None of them had a weapon, but ammo was found inside the home.

As Davies and the other officer circled to the back of the house, just in case someone else was inside and tried to flee, agents questioned the three people who'd left the house and learned that several pit bulls were inside. More personnel were called to help clear the dogs -- including Agent Braley, a SWAT officer team leader.

Dealing with the dogs took some time, and as agents tackled that task, another complication cropped up -- the arrival of Joe Ruiz, who was allegedly drunk. He yelled at the agents in front of the house, "challenging their authority to be in his home."

In the midst of this confusion, Braley, inside the house, was told the backyard hadn't been cleared yet. He was at the backdoor when he thought he heard voices.

What happened next?

Continue for more about the James Davies shooting, including the DA's 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

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