Denver, CO – Since August 27th, Denver Police Department (DPD) officers have shot and killed two individuals in separate incidents.
In both officer-involved shootings, police visited a home attempting to pick up someone with warrants. When the individual tried to flee, police responded by escalating their tactics to include deadly force (instead of allowing them to escape), resulting in death in both instances.
The first shooting took place in the early hours of Saturday, August 25th. DPD announced the shooting via Twitter shortly after it took place:
— Denver Police Dept. (@DenverPolice) August 27, 2016
The man killed by DPD early Saturday morning has been identified as Terry Salazar, age 49. Family members have started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for funeral expenses, saying “We as a family were not prepared for what has happened.”
The second shooting took place around noon on Wednesday, August 31st, in the 2600 block of Bates street. Officers entered a home looking for a 21-year-old man, and when he fled via a bedroom window, he was pursued by officers and tackled by one of them. Police officials say there was then a struggle, and allege the young man grabbed an officer’s gun.
One of the officers shot the young man in this alleged struggle; he was later pronounced dead on the scene. Three DPD officers were admitted to the hospital with “minor injuries” and later released. A witness told the Denver Post gunshots were heard about fifteen minutes after police arrived in the area.
The claim of injured officers was met with disbelief from some critics of the Denver police, who noted that after officers shot and killed unarmed 17-year-old Jessica Hernandez in January 2015, claims of officer injuries were used by police in an attempt to distract from the police shooting of an unarmed teenager.
Two very short press conferences posted on YouTube and Periscope were held by DPD regarding the shooting on Wednesday. When asked by reporters to release the names of the officers involved in the shooting, both DPD Chief Robert White and Commander Barb Archer of the Major Crimes Unit refused. The officials also declined to release the name of the 21-year-old shooting victim.
The following day, in an apparent attempt to lighten the mood after their recent string of shootings, the Denver Police Department tweeted a joke about Harry Potter that reveals their overall lack of accountability and compassion for the lives lost at their hands.
— Denver Police Dept. (@DenverPolice) September 1, 2016
The day prior, in the shooting death of the 21 year old, DPD had cited an allegedly stolen vehicle parked outside as a pretext for entering the house; the incident ended with police chasing down and killing the individual in question. These details fit into a pattern of DPD officers using deadly force in incidents related to car theft:
- Just over a week ago, on August 24, Denver Police shot and hospitalized a juvenile over an alleged carjacking.
- In July 2014, Denver police ambushed and murdered Ryan Ronquillo as he attended a friend’s funeral, in what was supposed to be an arrest for charges related to alleged auto theft.
- In January 2016, Denver Police shot and killed Ramone Lonergan in a car which was said to have been stolen, but was later found out to be his girlfriend’s car which he was driving with her consent.
- In January of last year 17-year-old Jessie Hernandez was shot to death by DPD officers as she sat with friends in a stolen car.
Separate lawsuits have been filed recently by two different families of people killed by Denver Police. This June, the family of Ryan Ronquillo filed a lawsuit against the police department over his killing. A few weeks later, the family of Paul Castaway, a man shot and killed in July 2015 during a mental health crisis, filed a similar suit.
We will provide updates as more information on these recent cases becomes available.
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