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Denver Police: Suspect armed with knife shot less than 1 minute after officers arrived

The fatal shooting involving a Denver Police officer happened Wednesday evening near South Federal Boulevard and West Harvard Avenue.

DENVER — A man who had been cutting himself with a knife was shot five times by a Denver Police Department (DPD) officer within 33 seconds of officers responding to the scene in the Harvey Park neighborhood in southwest Denver on Wednesday evening, a spokesperson for the department said.

"This is a total of 33 seconds, between the arrival of officers and when shots were fired," said Lt. Matt Clark with DPD. "In that 33 seconds, officers issued clear and direct commands. They backed away from the suspect to create additional distance. They utilized both a less-lethal pepper ball system and a taser before discharging their handgun."

RELATED: DPD: Suspect with knife shot by officer near South Federal Boulevard

The shooting happened about 7 p.m. Wednesday near South Federal Boulevard and West Harvard Avenue, DPD Division Chief Ron Thomas said at a previous briefing.

Thomas said officers were called to the scene on a report of a stabbing but that the ensuing investigation revealed that the individual had been injuring himself by cutting his own throat, DPD said Friday. He's been identified as 52-year-old Raul Rosas-Zarsosa.

"Based upon the nature of the incident the Denver Fire Department and the Denver Health paramedics were dispatched to the scene as well," said Clark. "Denver officers arrived at the location within five minutes of the initial call."

Officers spotted Rosas-Zarsosa who was kneeling near a tree and blood was visible near his throat, according to Clark. They drove past him and parked their vehicle in a way to block traffic from entering the area, Clark said, and then approached the man.

Both officers had less-lethal options ready to deploy, Clark said. At this point he said the officers were about 100 feet away. He said when Rosas-Zarsosa spotted the officers, he advanced toward them "at a steady pace while holding a utility knife in his right hand."

Clark said this happened just 18 seconds after the officers arrived. As Rosas-Zarsosa continued his approach, one of the two officers discharged pepper balls.

"Ten pepper balls struck the chest and the abdomen of the subject," Clark said. "Despite being struck by the pepper balls the subject kept advancing toward the officers."

With the pepper balls ineffective, Clark said a taser was also deployed.

"Preliminarily, it appears only one of the two taser probes made contact with the subject, and as a result, was not effective in stopping him," Clark said.

The other officer observed that the man was still not following commands and continuing toward them while holding the utility knife, according to Clark.

"Fearing the subject would assault her or her partner, she discharged her weapon five times," Clark said.

Rosas-Zarsosa was hit and was taken to Denver Health where he later died.

The officer who fired her weapon has been with DPD for two years but has prior law enforcement experience, Clark said. She's currently on modified duty.

RELATED: Man shot, killed by officers had carjacked vehicle, shot at strangers, police said

This was the second shooting involving Denver police in less than a week. Last Friday, investigators said nine officers fired their guns at a suspect accused of shooting at multiple people, carjacking a vehicle and leading law enforcement on a pursuit.

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