The Denver District Attorney’s Office released a decision letter Thursday ruling that an officer was justified in shooting an armed man who was trying to steal a car earlier this year.
The suspect in the Sept. 8 incident, identified as Sergio Casimiro-Meiia, survived and faces numerous charges, including first-degree assault on a peace officer, menacing, aggravated motor vehicle theft, possession of a weapon by a previous offender and possession of burglary tools.
The officer involved, Sergey Gurevich, was commended by DA Beth McCann in the letter for his “noteworthy restraint in only firing one shot in a highly stressful and dangerous situation.”
“In a split-second decision,” McCann wrote, “by not firing additional shots, Officer Gurevich undoubtedly prevented a far worse injury and probable death of Mr. Casmiro-Mejia.”
Denver Police officers were called to the parking lot of Intertech Medical at 4525 Kingston St. at 9 p.m. on Sept. 8 after an employee there said he saw someone trying to steal a car, and when he confronted him, the man appeared to be reaching for a gun.
This prompted a city-wide call for officers to go to the area. Gurevich ultimately responded, and when he arrived, he said he saw the suspect moving the car back and forth, according to the news release.
Gurevich says he told Casmiro-Mejia to stop the car and show his hands, but that the suspect was non-compliant.
Casmiro-Mejia then put the car into reverse and “ran over two parking blocks and may have also hit a nearby fence,” the decision letter says.
Gurevich says he approached the vehicle and saw Casmiro-Mejia staring at him. He appeared to have a gun (which would later be recovered by investigators) in his right hand.
“Officer Gurevich reported that ‘fearing that if I don’t fire, he will fire at me,’” the letter reads.
Gurevich then fired his gun once, hitting Casimiro-Mejia in the left cheek. According to the decision letter, the bullet passed through his neck, into his right shoulder and exited out of his right bicep.
After he was shot, the leter says Casimiro-Mejia tried to pull the car forward, but then stopped and put his hands up through the broken window. He was then taken into custody. According to the letter, they found a Smith and Wesson .357 magnum revolver with six bullets on his lap.
McMann says she believes the shooting was justified because Gurevich felt like he was in “imminent life-threatening peril” – especially when he thought Casimiro-Mejia was about to point a gun at him.
Casimiro-Mejia is slated to appear in Denver court on Nov. 29 for a preliminary hearing.