DENVER — A BNSF Railway officer was justified in fatally shooting a suspect in August when the suspect's attempts to avoid arrest escalated into a fistfight and the suspect stabbed the agent with a dagger, the Denver District Attorney's Office said on Friday.
The shooting happened Aug. 15 in the area of East 46th Avenue and Packing House Road on land adjacent to Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway tracks. The area is just north of Interstate 70 near the National Western Complex.
BNSF Railway Agent Derek Goodyear shot and killed the suspect, William Wallace, 54, who was camping on the land and also had a warrant for his arrest out of Arapahoe County, according to DA Office's decision letter.
Goodyear found Wallace camping near a railroad bridge that goes over the South Platte River, the DA said. At first, Goodyear decided against handcuffing Wallace because of the need for balance on unsure footing under the bridge, the letter says.
When Wallace attempted to get away from the officer and then stall arrest, Goodyear decided to handcuff him, the letter says, and Wallace faced the officer in a fighting stance. The face-off escalated into a physical fight on the ground, according to the letter.
Goodyear made several attempts to subdue the suspect with nonlethal force, the DA said. Meanwhile, Wallace attempted and failed to grab the officer's gun and then succeeded in taking a punch dagger from the officer's vest and used it to stab the officer multiple times, the letter says.
About a week after the incident, Goodyear described the moment to the DA's Office and the Denver Police Department: "And I thought, 'OK. So he's stabbing me. He's hitting me in the ribs.' I thought, 'You know, he's either killed me and I don't know it yet, or he's gonna kill me because where he's hitting me at is my lungs and heart.' ... So I'm like -- in my mind, I'm like. 'He -- he's killed me. I'm just waiting to die. My body must be just jacked up on adrenaline and I'm -- I'm dead.'"
Goodyear then pulled out his gun and shot Wallace in the neck — he fired his gun a total of three times, according to the letter. When Wallace stopped fighting, Goodyear radioed for help and handcuffed Wallace, the letter says.
Wallace was pronounced dead on scene, the letter says.
Goodyear was taken to a hospital with five stab wounds in his left shoulder and armpit. He was released from the hospital later that day, according to the letter and to a BNSF Railway spokesman.
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