Investigators have found that the Denver Police officer who shot a 17-year-old carjacking suspect in the leg back in August was justified in firing his weapon, according to a decision letter sent out by the Denver District Attorney’s Office Monday morning.
The teen – who wasn’t identified because he was under 18 – was sentenced to up to two years in the Division of Youth Corrections for the Aug. 16 incident.
The shooting happened in the parking lot and west alley of 1095 Federal Blvd. The incident started when a Denver Police officer spotted a car that had been reported carjacked in Arapahoe County a few days before.
Another officer, identified as Cpl. Jeff Heinis, responded and saw the stolen Volvo in a credit union parking lot. Three people were inside the vehicle, and investigators say all three teens got out of the car and ran away, ignoring Heinis’ commands.
ORIGINAL STORY: Carjacking suspect shot by DPD
One of the suspects, who had been in the driver’s seat, was spotted holding a black semi-automatic handgun. According to the decision letter, Heinis told investigators that this suspect looked like he was about to run into an alley.
“At the end of the alley is Tenth Avenue, which is kind of a busy street,” Heinis is quoted as saying in the decision letter. “There’s an RTD bus stop there that’s always got people at it. There’s a body shop there that the garage door is usually – or the door is usually open – and there’s people hanging out, out there, and there’s usually people walking back and forth, you know, across the alley.
“So I didn’t want that to be my backdrop in case I had to get involved in anything with him. So, I decided that that point I didn’t want him to be abale to get into that alley or carjack another vehicle or run into a house. There’s also a neighborhood back there.”
Heinis said he then decided to fire multiple shots at the suspect. The DA’s office says 12 shots were fired. One hit the suspect in the leg.
The other two teens who ran away were arrested in the nearby neighborhood. Both had previous warrants for their arrests.
Police say they found multiple stolen guns in the carjacked Volvo, as well as marijuana.