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Denver District Attorney finds officers justified in September deadly shooting

The shooting happened in the 2400 block of South Colorado Boulevard, killing Mac McPherson.
Credit: KUSA

DENVER — Second Judicial District Attorney Beth McCann found the officers involved in the fatal shooting of a man justified.

On September 15, Denver Combined Communications Center was notified of a man in possession of a gun at an apartment complex located at 2499 S. Colorado Blvd., according to a decision letter from the District Attorney's Office.

According to the female caller, her brother, brother-in-law and grandfather witnessed a handgun fall out of the pants of a man who appeared drunk and was trying to hug them, the letter says.

The brother also talked to the operator and described the suspect as a white man in his 30's and was 5 foot 9 inches to 5 foot 10 inches tall, with a medium build and wearing a blue t-shirt and jeans, according to the letter.

Officer Dennis Liss, who transferred to Denver from Chicago in March 2020, and his field training officer, Corporal Robert Krelle, responded to the call. Corporal Anthony Gutierrez-McKain was also nearby and also responded to the call, the letter says.

When officers arrived, a bystander on a balcony told officers that the suspect they were looking for was to the northeast of the complex, according to the letter.

Corporal Gutierrez-McKain found a man matching the suspect's description on the east side of Colorado Boulevard, walking northbound, the letter says.

The man, later identified as 22-year-old Mac McPherson, was staggering and appeared to be intoxicated, according to the letter.

Officers got in their vehicles and responded to a small strip mall about 700 feet to the north of the apartment complex, the letter says.

When contacted by Corporal Krelle and Officer Liss, McPherson raised his hands in the air, about shoulder high, with his elbows at his side, according to the letter.

Corporal Gutierrez-McKain parked his vehicle to the south of McPherson, in the southbound lanes of South Colorado Boulevard, the letter says.

During contact with officers, McPherson acknowledged that he was in possession of a handgun, which Corporal Krelle and Officer Liss saw in his pocket. Officers gave McPherson several commands to get on the ground which he did not comply with, eventually reaching for the gun he had in his pocket, according to the letter.

When McPherson reached for his gun, Krelle and Liss each fired six times and Gutierrez-McKain fired once, striking McPherson several times, the letter says.

As McPherson fell to the ground, his body twisted and several more shots were fired by officers, according to the letter.

Officers immediately began life saving measures, including placing a tourniquet on McPherson's leg. Paramedics from Denver Health Medical Center (DHMC) transported McPherson to the hospital and he was pronounced dead at 11:22 p.m.

"While a different outcome might have occurred, to ask these officers to wait and see what happened after Mr. McPherson pulled his gun is unreasonable," District Attorney McCann said in the decision letter. "Had the gun been fully raised, a single trigger pull could have killed or seriously injured one of these officers. Under these circumstances, I determine that the use of deadly force by Corporal Krelle, Corporal Gutierrez-McKain and Officer Liss was lawfully justified."

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