The 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office publicly released a decision letter Thursday afternoon saying it will not press charges against the deputy who shot and killed a 17-year-old carjacking suspect.
The suspect, since identified as James Hill, was pronounced dead in the hospital. He had been shot in the back by Arapahoe County Deputy Robert Knudsen while trying to run away from police at the Saddle Ridge Apartment Complex near East Dry Creek Road and South Yosemite Street, according to the DA’s decision letter.
The May 31 incident began with an early morning report that Hill and four other suspects were spotted in a sedan that had been stolen earlier that week in Thornton.
At around 4:30 a.m., investigators say the suspects went on to carjack a man inside of an apartment complex in Arapahoe County at gunpoint.
Twenty minutes later, the victim called 911 and 15 minutes after that, the DA’s office says an Arapahoe County deputy saw that stolen vehicle headed westbound on Broncos Parkway east of Jordan Road.
The vehicle evaded police, and was spotted heading westbound on East Dry Creek Road.
When Knudsen heard where the suspects were heading, the DA’s office says he went to the intersection of Dry Creek and Yosemite to intercept them, because he said if they went much further west, they’d be entering a mainly residential area.
The DA’s office says Knudsen tried to angle his car to force the drivers to turn onto Yosemite Street and away from the nearby neighborhoods, but that the suspects went around him, prompting the deputy to intentionally hit their vehicle in an effort to stop them.
This made the stolen vehicle spin out of control and end up on the north side of the Saddle Ridge Apartment Complex.
The five suspects inside took off running, and ignored Knudsen’s commands to stop, the decision letter reads.
Knudsen says he saw Hill holding a gun, and says he was afraid he would endanger the public and other deputies. When it seemed like Hill was about to out-run him, the DA’s letter says Knudsen fired two shots.
Hill’s handgun fell out of his hand and slid 10 to 15 feet across the ground.
Investigators later learned he had stolen it from his dad.
The four other suspects involved in the incident were also teenagers. One of them was a 14-year-old girl.
The DA’s Office said the shooting of Hill was justified because Knudsen believed he was in imminent danger and that the 17-year-old posed a threat to public safety.
The decision letter, dated Sept. 17, wasn’t publicly released until Thursday.