Colorado

Colorado Police Mistakenly Kill an Armed Man Defending His Home

An officer with the Aurora Police Department is on paid leave after confusing an armed homeowner with the intruder he shot and killed.

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|||Eduardo Ripoll/agefotostock/Newscom
Eduardo Ripoll/agefotostock/Newscom

An investigation is underway after Colorado police mistakenly shot an armed resident in confusion. The unidentified man was killed by the Aurora Police Department (APD) after he shot an intruder in his home.

According to a statement released on behalf of Police Chief Nick Metz, emergency services received "multiple calls" about a disturbance on Monday. Among the callers was a female alleging that a man was breaking into her home. APD responded to the calls.

Metz described a "very chaotic and violent scene" when officers arrived. Officers heard gunshots inside of the home. Metz said that his officers encountered an "armed adult male," though it is not immediately clear if he was inside or outside of the residency. An unidentified officer shot the armed adult male. Officers found another adult male dead on the bathroom floor and an injured juvenile.

The armed adult male shot by police was taken to the hospital and died from his injuries.

An investigation later found that the male in the bathroom was the suspected intruder. Police also discovered that they mistakenly shot the resident of the home, who used his firearm to kill the suspected intruder.

The Denver Post reports that Colorado law grants immunity to homeowners exercising their right to armed defense. As explained, under the 1985 Homeowners Protection Act, a shooting is justifiable if a homeowner believes that an intruder has intention to cause bodily harm or death against the homeowner or someone else inside of the residence. The protection does not apply if the shooting occurred in a yard or on a porch.

APD confirmed that the juvenile inside of the home sustained non-life-threatening injuries from the deceased intruder.

"This is a very heartbreaking and tragic situation for everyone involved. We are providing assistance through our victim advocates to help the family of the deceased resident through this very difficult time," Metz said.

He explained that the officer has since been placed on paid "administrative reassignment" in accordance with APD policy. The department has promised to cooperate with the Aurora Police Major Crimes Unit and the Denver Police Department, the two entities conducting the investigation.

Names will be released after the family of the deceased has been notified. Neighbors told reporters that the man killed by police was a long-time resident of the neighborhood, a grandfather, and a retiree. One neighbor, Brad Maestas, described him as a "family man" and a "grandpa that was protecting his family."

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90 responses to “Colorado Police Mistakenly Kill an Armed Man Defending His Home

  1. Confusion.
    Armed adult male. (threatening? Gun pointed at the floor? at the dead bad guy? At the officer? At the ceiling?)
    The cops don’t know if he was inside or outside? Bullshit.
    Unnamed officer? They don’t know who they put on administrative reassignment? (what a beautiful phrase)
    The dead guy was the “suspected” intruder? Seems pretty certain to me.

    1. A lot left out of the story to make a meaningful opinion, of course thats part of the purpose of not letting out the information in a timely manner in hopes that the whole thing will go away.

      1. What’s left unsaid is whether his wife let the 911 operator know that he was armed or just said, “There’s someone breaking into our house.” The former at least provides the chance to give the cops some situational awareness on who was firing the shots; if they didn’t know he was armed, unless at least one of the cops knows the family personally, someone waving a gun around and firing it in a home-invasion situation is a lot more likely to get shot themselves. However, if they knew ahead of time that he was armed and didn’t warn him to put the gun down, that indeed is a massive fuck-up.

        1. First rule of CCW holder or even a person protecting their home is when the police arrive put the gun down, FAST. of course with todays police mentality they may not have even given him a chance to put the gun down. still not enough info to know yet

          1. First rule of CCW holder or even a person protecting their home is when the police arrive put the gun down, FAST.

            I don’t know what CCW class you took, but you must’ve snoozed through 95% of it. There about 100 other rules before “Rule 1: What to do once the cops show up.”

            1. First rule of officer safety is if you see somebody with a gun, you shoot first and ask questions later. If the homeowner had been trained like the cops, there’d be a dead cop or two on the scene.

              1. And of course the homeowner wouldn’t have faced any consequences from shooting a cop or two, split-second decision, feared for my life, coming right at me, etc.

            2. My classes I took way back in the early 90’s in Florida covered what to do after being involved in a shooting and how to respond to cops. The first thing was not ‘drop the gun’ but to lower it, and to identify yourself as the complainant.

              Of course, times have changed. If I heard sirens, and nobody was in immediate danger I’d probably put the gun down, but still keep it well within reach.

              In hindsight the one thing nobody warned us about was trying to recognize/respond to verbal commands when under the combined influence of adrenalin and the immediate consequences of firing a gun indoors without hearing protection…

              1. Of course, times have changed. If I heard sirens, and nobody was in immediate danger I’d probably put the gun down, but still keep it well within reach.

                In hindsight the one thing nobody warned us about was trying to recognize/respond to verbal commands when under the combined influence of adrenalin and the immediate consequences of firing a gun indoors without hearing protection…

                Yeah, I’m sure nighttime, headlights, and the deliberately disorienting flicker of red and blue don’t help at all either. Is that a getaway car and the flashing lights mean the cops are right behind them? Raise your empty hand to shield your eyes and it’ll get you three bullets.

                1. All true. And cops are routinely trained to use their flashlight to blind/disorient people. Even people who pose no threat.

                  Action begets reaction.

            3. sorry Mad but you are flat out wrong. there are other situations that may call for other actions but no matter what, you put the gun down when the police arrive unless there is a chance the criminal may act if you do and that is the only case. You sir need to take a class and if you did and they taught you otherwise find a licensed educator to learn from someone who is not hot head who thinks guns make them king

              1. Maybe the homeowner was checking to see if the intruder had a partner? Maybe the cops didn’t show up with lights flashing and the cops did a piss poor job of identifying themselves?

                The first rule they taught us in CCW class was “reload”.

              2. sorry Mad but you are flat out wrong.

                Nope. You aren’t reading what I said correctly. If your CCW class starts out with “What to do once the cops show up.” you’re in the wrong CCW class. If you *think* your CCW class should start with “What to do once the cops show up.” you don’t need a CCW, probably shouldn’t own a gun, and I’ve got some swamp land in Florida you might be interested in buying.

                Personally, with every firearms, rocketry, chemical demonstration, etc. “course”/info session I’ve ever taught, I start with the zeroth rule: If you don’t own or have permission, aren’t completely familiar with the device/system, or are otherwise unsure about what you’re doing, stop doing it or don’t even start. Yours and pretty much every CCW and firearm training class I’ve been around and a part of starts with a whole list of rules that should apply and/or be considered before you even pick the gun up let alone what to do when the cops arrive. At the point guns are drawn, someone’s dead and the police are rolling up, you should’ve already crossed the threshold for CCW Rule No. 1. Otherwise, your CCW class was a waste.

      2. Agreed, not enough information to make any judgement. Hopefully there will be body cam footage.

    2. Remember. They’re the best of the best at efficiently collecting evidence, elucidating facts, and uncovering the truth.

  2. Sounds like the guy smoked the intruder right around the time the cops got there, and they were confused about who the actual homeowner was.

    1. “Shoot first, ask questions later” is their m.o.

      1. Regardless of the standard cop goofing that goes on here, there still isn’t enough info on what exactly happened and how the events played out. “Shoot first, ask questions later” shouldn’t be the cops m.o., but it shouldn’t be the rhetorical equivalent of that either.

        1. “here still isn’t enough info ” is wrong. We don’t have enough info from the cops (nor their buddies at the local newspaper who buy them donuts so they can get cool scoops when they arrest celebs) is more accurate.

          The evasive language here indicates that the responding officer shot first, probably without demanding the homeowner disarm, but hey those siren thingies are loud, he can’t be expected to communicate clearly in any event.

    2. Sounds more like the only person that could definitively say that there was only one intruder and/or trespasser got shot investigating his property for further intruders/trespassers.

      1. If he knew the cops had been called and then did choose to go outside to investigate I’d say that was not a wise (but neither was it a culpable) act.

        The law is violence.

        The law is also human.

        1. I’m not exactly indicting the cop or the guy for the situation, it seems pretty clearly unintentional. Maybe-to-probably the officer should lose his job because we should demand better of servants of the public.

          As usual, I do think the police could’ve done more ‘investigation’ before rolling in guns blazing. I know there’s a bit of artistic license involved in my portrayal/perception, but if the Army can know up to the second how many hostiles are hiding in a cave in the remote region of Bumfuckistan before deciding to engage and how, cops could at least make sure they aren’t shooting civilians.

    3. Then they shouldn’t have fired their weapons until they knew. If they’re that scared of getting hurt, they shouldn’t be cops in the first place.

  3. Oh shit, they called the cops…

    1. Their mistake…

  4. The only time you ever talk to police officers about intruders is after the engine has cooled down on the back hoe.

    1. The only time you ever talk to police officers about intruders is after the engine has cooled down on the back hoe.

      The back hoe or your attorney’s Mercedes, whichever comes first.

    2. Too soon, you want the sod to have been mowed at least a couple times.

  5. Nothing good ever happens when you call the cops.

    1. Truth

    2. KWlib: That’s the lesson here! If I was the victim’s relation or friend I would confront the person who called the cops in front of a crowd and accuse then of being accessory to murder before the fact. Not enough people speak up. Of course, the media would never print the story.
      And the investigation will conclude with the usual official statement: “The officer followed policy.” What if the witnesses say different? That will not be printed.

  6. I am retired LE and I came to feel that “realistic” shooting scenarios, training videos, and “haunted house” set ups where you have to go through and clear the house, only makes cops more trigger-happy. (That’s because you die so much in these things after innocent-looking people pull a .44 mag out of nowhere and bushwhack you.)

    At least, it did me. I became a notorious cop-killer at the training facility because inevitably I would be the one who shot some plain-clothes cop who runs into the scenario with gun drawn and I would plug him.

    Then the instructors would try to shame me: “What are you going to tell that officer’s widow?”

    “The flat truth,” I would respond, “just because he made detective he shouldn’t have stopped wearing the Kevlar vest merely because it was uncomfortable and made his sport coat fit funny.”

    1. that sounds similar to a friend who trains police officers and he says they train to empty their gun in 3 seconds. Thats not enough time to become situational aware or to stop yourself from shooting after you realize you’ve shot an innocent. I think the training methods need a major re-evaluation.

      1. I’m skeptical. An average duty pistol is going to have anywhere from 12-15 rounds in it. That that sort of ‘training’ is standard strikes me as a recipe for wrongful death suits.

        And it’s not the rate of fire, squeezing off 6-7 double taps in 3 seconds – even on multiple targets – is not unrealistic, it’s just more than likely unnecessary.

        ‘Shoot till the target drops’ I get.

        ‘Shoot yourself into needing a reload’ I do not.

        1. I agree ThomasD but thats what is being taught hence the large number of wrong full deaths.

          1. I’d say the wrongful death suits become a problem when your ’empty the magazine’ training results in you continuing to shoot someone who has already fallen face down.

            1. as happened in Sacramento after the kid fell face down you can see the helicopter footage of the bullets bouncing off the concrete those cops literally couldn’t even hit a dead body

        2. “wrongful death suites” -> See also “Qualified Immunity”.

        3. ThomasD: It’s much worse than that. If 2 or more cops are at the scene and one nervous one starts shooting the policy is “one shoot, all shoot, all bullets”. That’s correct, ALL shoot, All bullets. But think about it. If the goal is to protect the cops first, not just from physical injury, but from accountability, then this policy does two things, 1. It leaves no victim to testify. 2. It involves potential witnesses (the other cops), eliminating them as witnesses. Also, it creates confusion, e.g., who shot first, from what angle, at what distance?
          And there you have it. The explanation for what you deemed “unnecessary”. It is necessary if your goal is to protect the cops in every way possible, first and foremost.

    2. The training that our LEO receive is completely counter to the 2nd amendment. It’s everyone’s right to keep and bear arms. Just because someone has a weapon doesn’t mean it’s ok to kill them or arrest them or search them or harass them…

      1. Cy: Correct. But it’s logical. It’s “ok” to kill them if your ultimate goal is public control, by any means, fear being a very powerful control mechanism. The public will see this (read about it) and consciously and unconsciously, be frightened of the cops. They will adopt an attitude of caution, expressed in their self-censorship around cops, and their compliance to any demands, however tyrannical. The victims of this tyranny will excuse their attitude as “respect”. But they will not admit that respect should be voluntarily granted, not forced by fear of death. Respect should be granted on moral grounds. That’s the civilized way. We don’t have a civilized political paradigm. No country does. No country ever has. In America the govt. was so small at first that the lack of civility was not very destructive. Freedom was de facto, not on political principle. Since the political principle was based on violence, threat, and fraud, those grew and grew and grew until we live under the iron fist of the US Empire.

  7. The armed adult male shot by police was taken to the hospital and died from his injuries.

    Phew. I was afraid it was the cops who killed him.

    1. Really need a “Like” button here.

  8. The Denver Post reports that Colorado law grants immunity to homeowners exercising their right to armed defense.

    So the good news is they won’t be prosecuting his corpse.

  9. The department has promised to cooperate with the Aurora Police Major Crimes Unit and the Denver Police Department, the two entities conducting the investigation.

    Fill in your own scare quotes at the end there.

  10. Most coppers should not be allowed to have a firearm .

    1. I think they should have the exact same rights as every other citizen. No special treatment. If they want to be armed, let them be armed. If they want to carry mace or a sniper rifle, let them. Stop treating them as if they’re a special class of citizen, we’re not supposed to have any of those.

  11. Most coppers should not be allowed to have a firearm .

    1. Most coppers shouldn’t have so much as a rolled-up newspaper.

      1. A college buddy was trained as a Guardian Angel, whose weapon of choice was a tightly rolled magazine. They could do some real damage (and become “unarmed” quickly), but they’re all obviously braver than most LE.

  12. and never ,call the coppers if you plan on defending yourself in the situation you are in .
    Coppers have itchy trigger fingers and love to kill.

    1. The problem with not calling the cops is that explaining to your neighbors why there is a dead body in your bathroom can be a bit tricky.

  13. This is a major fuck up that ought to cost the department millions and this guy his job. I am not sure it is criminal, however. The guy did have a gun. And this should serve as a warning to everyone that if you ever have to shoot someone in your house, make damn sure that you don’t have a weapon and are standing outside when the cops show up.

    1. Upon rereading, it sounds like the gun battle was still ongoing when the cops showed up. While I don’t disagree that it’s probably best not to have gun in hand once the cops show up, I’m not convinced of the prudence of putting your weapon down before the fighting is decisively over.

      The common sense solution would be to have dozens of drop guns all over the house such that you just drop one every time it goes empty or you kill an intruder and pick up a fresh one should it be needed. Additionally, a suitcase or guitar case full of guns could make an acceptable substitute. Just go full-Tarantino during every home invasion. It’s the only way to be sure.

      1. You have to kill the guy in front of you. No question about that. But once you do, the cops are now the biggest and a very real danger. You never want to have a gun in your hand when cops show up if you can possibly avoid it. It is a danger that I think a lot of people forget.

        1. Same goes for a cell phone.

          1. Or a waistband.

    2. In a perfect world, each man has the responsibility to positively identify his target before pulling the trigger.

      1. I a perfect world, nobody would commit a home invasion, they’d be too busy hanging out at tea parties with the unicorns.

        1. In a perfect world, there’d be no police union, and the best/smartest LEOs would get paid well enough to keep doing the job while the cowards and incompetents would get fired/demoted to meter maid.

    3. Cop murderered* the guy. I can’t shoot someone just because I’m confused, and they have no special rights.

      That’s what happens when you’re trigger happy.

      *The moral meaning of the term, not necessarily the legal meaning.

      1. I’m not saying this is what happened, but I am saying it could have happened.

        You are the homeowner, you have just had a very violent encounter with a home intruder intent on harming an occupant. You had to shoot that person. You have called the cops. You know you are the good guy. You are also incredibly stressed out and pumped up. You hear the cops arrive and you walk out to greet them and explain the situation. Never thinking that you still have the pistol held firmly in your hand.

        You are also a little hard of hearing, and haven’t fully recovered from your tunnel vision. You cannot understand what the cop is saying, or why that he’s shouting as you continue to walk towards him…

        Maybe you never even raise the pistol. But now put yourself in the cop’s shoes. He knows there is a report of an intruder in the house, maybe he knows there has been a shooting in the house. Now he has some guy walking directly at him with a gun in his hand.

        Or, maybe it is something profoundly worse, and it is all the cop’s fault.

        Either way, I don’t know, and neither do you.

        1. Unless that person is pointing the gun at you, you shouldn’t shoot him.

          Those were the ROE in Iraq, how the heck are they less strict in the US!

          1. Different organization, different rules. The US military is perfectly willing to put you in harms way for all sorts of reasons, including in order to avoid the consequences of you shooting the ‘wrong’ person.

            Here in the US we all have much greater leeway when deciding when to respond to an apparent threat.

            1. “Different organization, different rules”

              Precisely the wrong point, no one has “special rights”. If it’s murder if I do it, then it’s murder if anyone does it.

              “Here in the US we all have much greater leeway when deciding when to respond to an apparent threat.”

              If you did what that cop did, you’d be in prison for “life”. You know that!

              1. I’m afraid it is you who is missing the point. Your ROI had nothing to do with rights, special or otherwise. That was you following orders.

                Here in the US we all really do have much greater leeway when deciding when to respond to an apparent threat.

                Apparent being a critical word.

                And no, since (as I’ve already noted multiple times here) we really don’t know what the cop or the homeowner actually did during their encounter, I do not ‘know’ whether I’d be charged, much less convicted of anything.

                1. “Your ROI had nothing to do with rights, special or otherwise.”

                  As described by the government or in reality? The government makes that up as they go. You are, however, within your “rights” to be armed. Anyone killing you for simply being armed is murdering you, period.

                  “Here in the US we all really do have much greater leeway when deciding when to respond to an apparent threat.”

                  An armed person isn’t a threat, unless they are threatening you verbally, or pointing the weapon at you.

                  “we really don’t know what the cop or the homeowner actually did during their encounter”

                  Assuming the homeowner didn’t point the gun at the cops or threaten to kill them, then their killing was murder. A reasonable assumption, though you are right, we don’t know it.

                  1. I’m in favor of holding cops to a higher standard than that we apply to the rest of us.

                    The general reality is quite the opposite.

        2. What bullshit. You’re so eager to lick boots and empathize with the traumatized authority figure that you couldn’t even put yourself into the homeowner’s shoes correctly. You blame the homeowner for not putting his gun down before greeting the cops. Generally it is very good advice to not talk to a cop while holding a gun, because cops tend to be poorly trained, panicky and heavily armed.

          It was not good advice here.

          If the homeowner had followed your advice and put the gun down, it’s quite likely the second intruder (who was likely held at gunpoint inside a room of the house, shitting himself) would have picked up the gun, or at the very least bum rushed the now unarmed old man and run out the front door, where the cops would empty their magazines completely missing him but killing the homeowner and his wife and their dog and possibly the neighbor’s dog (it was resisting).

          . You know the cops are coming, and that you killed someone in self-defense, so you put the pistol down so that the cops don’t greet you with a hail of gunfire

          1. What bullshit. You’re so eager to lick boots and empathize with the traumatized authority figure that you couldn’t even put yourself into the homeowner’s shoes correctly

            Do you actually know exactly how everything went down, based on the limited reporting thus far from the Denver Post? Because what they put out there is pretty fucking vague beyond, “the guy’s wife called 911 during a home invasion, the cops arrived while a gun or guns were going off, and they shot the homeowner who had killed the intruder.”

            While it’s likely that this was a major fuck-up, we don’t actually have all the information yet. But feel free to chimp out about it because “fucking pigs.”

  14. My son was a patrol officer in a middle-American city about 15 years ago when he responded to a wild shooting scene. Two firemen and a sheriff’s deputy were dead when he arrived. The scene turned into a circular firing squad with the suspect in the middle blazing away with a shotgun as officers arrived from all directions. The man (who had started it all by killing his wife and then calling 9-1-1) was a large fellow and was not going down despite repeated hits.

    My son took three hits in his bullet-resistant vest, all from friendly fire. He recalled a female cop arriving and running past him to jump on the body of one of the fallen fireman and cover the dying man from further bullets.

    When the shooting finally stopped, a crazed looking officer approached my son, complaining that he wanted to help my son but his gun wouldn’t fire for at all for some reason. My son checked the weapon. Glocks stay open when empty. The mag was empty and all the cop’s belt mags were empty, but the guy had no memory of firing a single shot.

  15. This story is part of the reason I think Ving Rhames’ story about having the laser sight on his forehead is between hyperbole and bullshit.

    1. How did he know he had a laser spot on his forehead?

    2. I’m skeptical too. But back in the early eighties I got caught up in a very bad misunderstanding outside a Tampa Bay Bucs game, and ended up with a cop pointing a revolver at my head.

      I could see the bullet in every cylinder, and swear I could see the one at the other end of the barrel as well.

      It’s funny how you tend to notice every detail in a very limited field of focus at moments like that. I couldn’t tell you a thing about what the cop looked like, but I can tell you they were jacketed roundnose hollowpoints.

      Maybe he saw the laser light on the weapon, but how he knew exactly where on his body it was pointing? Not possible.

  16. Fuck the police.

  17. Look. We need the police. Otherwise, armed men will go around and shoot people without consequence.

    Oh wait….

  18. I actually agree that people should be able to keep a gun at home for self defense. However, there is a risk that when the police show up they won’t know who the “bad guy” is. It is a tragedy, but I can understand how the tragedy occurred.

    1. Its wouldnt be if police were not trained to shoot anything that moves.

      Many cops are to chickenshit to be cops in the first place.

      Police training needs to be changed too.

  19. “This is a very heartbreaking and tragic situation for everyone involved. We are providing assistance through our victim advocates to help the family of the deceased resident through this very difficult time,” Metz said.

    STFU. You’re going to make it worse by not firing and prosecuting the psychopath. You will call it a “good shoot”

  20. We’ll probably find out that several officers were simultaneously shouting conflicting commands at the homeowner, resulting in his confusion, hesitation, and subsequent death.

  21. The NRA presumably isn’t paying any of you, so you could at least entertain the likelihood that without guns in this situation nobody would be dead.

    Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby doesn’t need a gun, and he deals with some sick shit.

    1. so you could at least entertain the likelihood that without guns in this situation nobody would be dead.

      You could entertain the likelihood that if the intruder hadn’t tried to break in, nobody would be dead.

      Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby doesn’t need a gun

      Fictional characters for fictional political beliefs.

    2. The NRA presumably isn’t paying any of you, so you could at least entertain the likelihood that without guns in this situation nobody would be dead.

      This endorsement of complete strangers injuring minors in their own homes without a gun brought to you by Tony.

  22. “Metz described a “very chaotic and violent scene” when officers arrived.”

    Cops shoot grandpa in panic fire. “Good shoot”, because it was scary.

  23. Dont call the police until all intruders have been killed and you need police to recommend a cleaning service to get criminal brain off the walls.

  24. Because like a lot of the police youtubers say. You cannot say how things should be done because you are not in the situation. Maybe announce your fucking self as a police officer? I am above saying a police officer,i come to kill bad guys. Pew pew. Take that you fucker. Meanwhile the actual robber is fleeing and calling 911 actually got you killed.

  25. If you kill a guy by accident 10 to 20 years or ass rape are coming your way. But yeha you kill a guy as a police officer? It is america the land of the free. Yeha. One of the worst things about the United States. Every has the same rights. Yeha you would have to be drunk to believe that. Police officers have more rights.

  26. Bullshit. When you go into a situation with weapons drawn, it’s no “mistake” when someone dies. Imagine police showing up ready to go all John Wayne at a school where teachers are armed. Can we say “recipe for disaster”?

  27. ARMED AND DANGEROUS
    Ranch-coveting officials
    settle for killing owner
    Five police agencies staged
    bogus drug raid on rich eccentric
    to acquire 200-acre spread

    By Paul Ciotti
    ? 2000 WorldNetDaily.com

    dd

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