Denver, CO – Early in the afternoon of Monday, May 9, 2016, Denver Police announced via twitter that a “possible officer-involved shooting” had occurred on East Colfax in Denver, near the neighboring city of Aurora.
Denver Police held a press conference, streamed via Periscope. Denver Police Deputy Chief Matt Murray told the press that Aurora police followed a vehicle into Denver, and then a short foot chase ensued. According to Murray, the foot chase ended up with two people being taken into police custody, one of them shot by an unidentified Aurora police officer and hospitalized in critical condition.
Some people we spoke with in the area in which the shooting took place, outside the Sand and Sage Motel on East Colfax, stated that the man shot by police had died; as of yet we have not been able to confirm his condition or if the shooting was fatal.
The police, as well as most local Denver media, have stated that the man shot by an Aurora police officer was a suspect in a separate non-police involved shooting that took place earlier in the day. We have not been able to verify this official account.
We were told by area residents at the scene that the man shot by police was not the suspect as police claimed.
We observed a revolver on the ground in the motel area behind police tape. According to the Denver Post an eyewitness said they saw the man take the gun out, possibly to get rid of it, as he ran from police. However local residents we spoke with said that the man had no gun and several people alleged that the gun was planted there by police.
Almost immediately after the shooting, people in the area gathered to express their anger and disbelief at yet another police shooting in the Denver Metro Area. Many people said that the officers did not have to shoot the man, that he was shot while running away, and that the disregard for life directly relates to the violence, harassment, and disrespect that residents of the East Colfax area regularly experience at the hands of police.
We later observed police knocking on doors of a motel across the street in an attempt to solicit witnesses. Nobody appeared interested in speaking with officers and we heard the motel manager tell officers to leave because nobody wanted them there.
Both Denver and Aurora’s police departments had a string of high-profile killings of unarmed people last year, many of which, simlar to this shooting, involved a vehicle. In November 2015, Aurora Police shot and killed 25-year-old Chan Lieth after following him into Denver and cornering his vehicle with their vehicles outside a convenience store. Police investigators justified the killing of Lieth, who was unarmed, by claiming he was using his vehicle as a deadly weapon. Both Denver and Aurora policies at that time had policies that forbade officers from firing into moving vehicles.
Denver policy still forbids shooting at moving cars, yet Denver Police technician Jeff Motz shot unarmed Dion Avila Damon in a parked car seven times on April 12, 2016. The recent police murder of Mr. Damon was fresh in the minds of many people we spoke with after this latest police shooting.
View clips of livestream coverage from the scene of the shooting below.
Complete footage can be viewed on our livestream page.
As of yet there are many unanswered questions and statements from the police that are unconfirmed. Unicorn Riot will continue to report on this shooting as more information becomes available.