DENVER — The mother of a 21-year-old girl who was shot and killed in Denver's Ballpark neighborhood on June 10 called a recently confirmed detail about the case "horrific."
"It's torment going through a murder trial, just to begin with," Ana Thallas said in response to learning the gun used to kill her daughter, Isabella Thallas, belonged to a Denver police officer, 9Wants to Know confirmed Monday evening.
"But then when you know that something like this has happened, it’s just horrific," Ana Thallas said.
Isabella Thallas was shot and killed in Denver's Ballpark neighborhood while she was walking with her boyfriend, Darian Simon, and his dog on June 10. Isabella Thallas turned 21 just two days before. Simon was also shot and is recovering from his injuries.
According to Denver Police, the suspect, Michael Close — who has since been charged with first-degree murder — took the rifle from Sgt. Daniel Politica's home without the officer's knowledge or permission. Upon learning his rifle was missing and that it may have been used in this homicide, DPD said Politica notified investigators that the rifle belonged to him. The rifle was not issued to the officer by DPD and the department said AK-47s are not authorized for on-duty use.
DPD also said Close and Politica were friends.
Ana Thallas said she had been informed the two "were best friends. Lifelong best friends for over 20 years. They grew up together."
During a November court hearing, Det. Joseph Trujillo spoke about a text message and a voicemail that Close sent to Politica on the day of the shooting.
At about 11:33 a.m., Close sent Politica a text message saying his dog was attacked by two other dogs, according to Trujillo.
At 11:40 a.m., Close left a voice mail for Politica saying that he, "really f-ed up bad" and "there is no going back from this now," according to Trujillo.
In November, 9NEWS asked the Department of Safety if Politica was currently or had at any point in 2020 been under an internal affairs investigation.
A spokesperson answered no to both queries.
Denver Police said Internal Affairs initially completed a review of the information pertaining to Politica's personal firearm being stolen but found no policy violation and therefore did not open an Internal Affairs case.
"I am going to make sure that justice is served to every single person that was involved in my daughter's murder, from A to Z," Ana Thallas said. "Why is this man still working?"
As far as any potential liability for Politica, 9NEWS Legal Expert Scott Robinson said it would really depend on the circumstances surrounding the acquisition of the gun:
- If Close stole the gun from Politica: "That would take away any responsibility. The plaintiff, I assume the mother of the young girl who was shot, could prevail by showing the officer should have known the firearm would be used illegally. If Sgt. Politica truly suspected his friend took the gun, then he potentially could be liable civilly, even if it was taken without his permission, if it can be shown that had he reported the theft the firearm would have been forfeited and lives would have been saved."
- If Politica provided Close with the gun: "If the officer provided the weapon to his friend knowing his friend was mentally unstable or likely to use the gun for nefarious purposes, then the officer surely could be liable criminally as well as civilly... If you provide a firearm to somebody who is mentally unstable, outside of the parameters of this case, you're looking at potential liability both civilly and criminally. We require people to use some common sense in who they sell a firearm to or who they give a firearm to."
Close was arrested in Park County. Police said they found an AR-15 and a handgun in the passenger-side floorboard of the Mercedes SUV he was driving at the time, as well as a gun belt and firearm magazines. DPD clarified the AR-15 noted in the arrest affidavit was actually Politica’s AK-47.
Close is facing 22 charges including first-degree murder and several counts of possessing a prohibited large-capacity gun magazine.
According to court records, Close does not have a prior criminal history in Colorado.
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