WESTMINSTER — The District Attorney's office will not file criminal charges against a Westminster police officer who shot and killed a suspect who led law enforcement on a pursuit and tried to hit an officer, prompting that officer to open fire, according to a decision letter from the DA.
The letter states that the August shooting was justified under Colorado law as Officer Guzman was in fear for his life because he believed the suspect was attempting to run him over.
The shooting stemmed from a shoplifting incident at a Kohl's in the area of West 120th Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard on Aug. 2, 2018.
Police said Jousha Valencia, 44, threatened loss prevention personnel with a knife. Valencia ran away, according to the Westminster Police Department, and took off in a blue Chevrolet Aveo driven by 57-year-old Michael Gonzales, from Denver.
Officers found the suspect in the car a short time later and began to pursue him as he eluded officers. The Westminster Police Department said officers made multiple attempts to disable the car.
According to the decision letter, Officer Guzman was eventually able to stop the car back in the Kohl's parking lot using a PIT maneuver.
Guzman then got out of his vehicle and began giving commands to the driver of the Aveo, the decision letter says.
The decision letter states that Guzman saw Gonzales shake his head "no," rev the engine of the car and the accelerate quickly forward and then in reverse while Guzman was standing behind the car. That is when Guzman fired his weapon.
During an interview shortly after the incident, Guzman told investigators he believed he did not have time to get out of the way of the vehicle and that Gonzales was attempting to "run me over."
The car ended up crashing into a ravine and Gonzales was transported to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
Gonzales was shot a total of seven times - six times in the legs and one time in the back, according to the decision letter.
Valencia was arrested by other officers, according to a news release. Police said he's facing theft charges in relation to the incident.