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Female homicide suspect fatally shot by deputies was armed with airsoft pistol

Lisa Garcia, 52, was armed with an airsoft pistol when she was fatally shot on Sept. 3.

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — Two Arapahoe County Sheriff's (ACSO) deputies were justified when they shot a homicide suspect back in September who died from her injuries, the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office announced Tuesday.

Members of the Arapahoe County Special Response Team (SRT) were asked to assist Denver Police (DPD) in locating and apprehending Lisa Garcia, on Sept. 3, 2021.

Garcia was wanted for first-degree murder in connection with the fatal shooting of a relative in July in Denver. The Denver Medical Examiner's Office identified the victim as Neomi Tafoya, 41. 

RELATED: Woman killed in shooting in Denver's Elyria-Swansea neighborhood

DPD said officers were called to a home in the 4700 block of Vine Street just before 6 p.m. on July 24 and found Tafoya injured.

Tafoya later died at the hospital, according to DPD, and officers determined she died of a gunshot wound. 

>The video above is from September when Garcia was shot.

On Sept. 3, DPD received a Crime Stoppers tip that Garcia was in the area of East Harvard Avenue in and Arapahoe County, and ACSO deputies later located Garcia running north on the sidewalk outside 7500 E. Harvard Ave., a decision letter from the DA's office says.

Deputies commanded her to stop, the letter says, and she pulled out a black gun from her purse and pointed it in "a shooting stance" at Deputy Joseph Hallett, the letter says.

Hallett fired his rifle at her, according to the letter.

Credit: 18th Judicial District
A photo of Garcia taken from video from a body-worn camera shows her in a shooting stance pointing an airsoft gun at a deputy.

Deputy Tyler Zimmerman arrived and saw Garcia pull the gun out and point it at Hallett, the letter says. He also fired two rounds from his rifle. 

The DA's office concluded that Hallett and Zimmerman "reasonably believed" that Garcia posed an "imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury."

After Garcia was shot, she fell to the ground with her hand and the gun underneath her, the letter says. When she did not respond to commands to show her hands, Deputy Justin Yantiss fired two 40mm less-lethal impact rounds striking her in the right buttock area, according to the letter.

The DA concluded that Yantiss’ use of force was "reasonable."

RELATED: Woman killed in confrontation with deputies identified

According to the autopsy report, Garcia was struck multiple times but ultimately died from a gunshot wound to the chest.

It was later determined that the gun, was an airsoft pistol, but the DA said there was "no way" in the limited time they had for the deputies to distinguish it from a lethal firearm. 

Credit: 18th Judicial District
The airsoft gun was recovered from the scene.

The DA went on to say in the letter that it was "reasonable" for the deputies to conclude it was a "real firearm capable of deadly force." The DA also noted that a female voice is heard in audio from a body camera saying, "I've got a gun."

No criminal charges will be filed against any of the deputies involved, the DA concluded.

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