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Jeffrey Strouse is lucky cop just barely shot him, DA says

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As we've reported, Gordon Moench told investigators he wanted to be killed by police in an incident that ended with the wounding of two Lakewood cops.

Presumably, Jeffrey Strouse felt differently in a separate officer-involved shooting. But not only has Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey determined that the Aurora officer in that case did nothing wrong, but he notes in a decision letter included here that Strouse is lucky not to have been severely injured or snuffed entirely. The strange details below.

See also: Update: Gordon Moench allegedly lured cops to ambush with threat to "kill a bunch of people"

At about 11:10 p.m. on May 16, according to the document, Aurora Police Officer Jeff Olson pulled over a silver Mercedes piloted by Strouse near the intersection of Colfax Avenue and Xenia Street.

Strouse didn't have a driver's license or proof of insurance, but he was fully equipped with slurred speech, bloodshot eyes and an agitated demeanor, the report maintains. The latter conditions presumably contributed to what happened next: When Olson asked him to unbuckle his seat belt and exit the car, Strouse instead shifted into drive and pressed the gas pedal.

A slew of additional Aurora cops responded to Olson's call for assistance. The report says Strouse managed to elude them by almost crashing into police cars at several nearby locations and nearly reversing over officers on foot who were yelling at him to stop.

Aurora Officer Randy Carroll was hearing about this mayhem on the radio when he suddenly found himself drawn into action. Carroll was in a marked police vehicle when the Strouse-driven Mercedes came close to rear-ending him before zooming past.

Before long, Strouse zipped into a lot and parked near Havana and 54th Avenue in Denver, with Carroll and other officers in pursuit. Upon his arrival, Carroll reportedly dismounted from his cruiser, drew his handgun and turned on his flashlight while approaching the Mercedes and ordering Strouse to "show me your hands" and "get out of the car."

Strouse had a different idea. The letter states that he backed up in the Mercedes, ramming into, and seemingly getting stuck to, an unmarked police truck in the process.

Carroll responded by running to the Mercedes and trying to break its window with his gun and flashlight. At that point, the report says the Mercedes broke free from the truck and fishtailed toward him in what Carroll took to be a deliberate attempt to turn him into road kill.

The officer squeezed off a shot at the driver's side window of the Mercedes, but to little effect: The window didn't break and Strouse didn't stop.

As another unmarked police car smashed into the Mercedes, Carroll fired again, this time through the rear window. But Strouse drove on -- at least until the Mercedes stalled on the 5500 block of Tucson Street.

Cops quickly surrounded the car, and when Strouse refused to cooperate, they broke the driver's side window using a more effective tool -- a hammer -- and pulled him out.

Was Strouse struck by the second of Carroll's shots? DA Morrissey seems unconvinced. He writes: "Strouse claimed to have been grazed by a bullet. However, any wound he suffered was very slight. Strouse is lucky that he was not severely injured or killed."

Morrissey reinforces this view with a legal analysis that concludes that "we could not prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that Officer Carroll lacked a justification for his actions while attempting to make this arrest." Hence, no charges against the officer will be pressed.

Strouse isn't so fortunate. He's been formally charged with vehicular eluding and aggravated driving after revocation. Yep, the DA says he didn't have a valid license to drive.

Here's a full-size look at Strouse's booking photo, followed by the decision letter.

Jeffrey Strouse Decision Letter

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

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