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'I hate that it was my gun,' says former Denver cop whose AK-47 was used in murder

For the first time, we hear the explanation of Daniel Politica after his gun was used to murder Isabella Thallas.

DENVER — A former Denver Police officer whose AK-47 was used in a fatal 2020 shooting said he believes the now-convicted shooter took the gun from his personal closet months before the crime, according to a deposition he gave earlier this year.

The videotaped deposition, obtained by 9Wants to Know, offers the first insight as to how Daniel Politica’s AK-47 might have ended up in the hands of Michael Close on June 10, 2020.

Close fired multiple rounds from a Denver apartment window on that June morning, killing Isabella Thallas and severely injuring her boyfriend, Darian Simon.  A jury found him guilty of the crime Thursday.

In 2021, Daniel Politica resigned from the Denver Police Department two months after 9NEWS reported his AK-47 was used in the crime.

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The February 2022 deposition, taken as part of a civil case filed on behalf of Simon and the parents of Thallas, Politica offered a first-hand account of a series of events that led up to the high-profile shooting that shut down a large neighborhood near Coors Field for hours.

Politica told attorneys during the deposition that he and Close had been friends for years, meeting for the first time around the time Politica was in high school.

“Do you still consider him a close friend?” asked attorney Craig Silverman.

“That’s an incredibly conflicting question,” Politica answered.

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Regardless, in early 2020, Close was living in an Arvada home owned by Politica. “When Mike was staying in the house, in exchange for staying in the house, he was helping pack up [my stuff],” said Politica during the deposition. The boxes were to be sent to another home in Arvada.

Politica said he kept the AK-47 for personal protection and not on the job, in “a gap between the [master bedroom] closet and the wall.”

Politica told attorneys he figures that Close took the gun while boxing up various things in the house. He said he never thought he needed to check on the AK-47 because he “never got around to unpacking the majority of my stuff.”

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In the weeks leading up to the murder, Politica said his friend started to spiral downward. The start of the lockdown was brutal, he said.  At that point, Close had moved to an apartment near Coors Field.

“[The lockdown] was just the final thing for Mike’s breakdown,” he said.

“You had reason to be worried?” Silverman asked.

“Yes, sir. Yeah. That’s why I was trying to take him to therapy," Politica said.

Hours after the shooting, Politica learned that his friend was involved and he called a detective. At first, he said he was told an AR-15 was used in the crime.

“Initially, I was under the impression that it was an AR-15 used in the crime, and I wasn’t worried about the whereabouts of any of my ARs,” he said.

Weeks later, during an interview with a Denver detective, he said he learned the truth.

“Yeah. That’s when I felt like I got punched in the stomach,” he said.

Even still, he admitted, he never went to the place where Close had moved his boxes.

“So even after the alarm bells went off, you didn’t go search that room to make sure your AK-47 had been moved?” Silverman asked.

“I didn’t search that room, no,” Politica said.

“I hate that it was my gun that was used. I hate that I was also betrayed. You know, I didn’t have any active role in this,” Politica said.

“What do you think was the motivation,” asked an attorney.

“Mental health," Politica said. "I think Mike needed mental health, and he couldn’t get it for free."

On Thursday, a jury decided Close was not insane at the time of the crime, an argument that his defense presented to jurors during the trial.

He will spend the rest of his life in prison when sentenced later this year.

Politica could not be reached for comment. 

If you have any additional information on this story or any other investigation you’d like us to look into please email us at Chris.vanderveen@9news.com

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