DENVER — A former Denver police officer whose gun was used in the fatal shooting of a young woman this summer has resigned.
Sgt. Daniel Politica resigned from the Denver Police Department (DPD) effective March 13, according to a spokesperson for the department.
The department did not offer any details about the resignation. A copy of the resignation letter, shared by DPD, offered no additional details about the decision.
9Wants to Know confirmed earlier this year that an AK-47-style rifle belonging to Politica somehow ended up in the hands of the suspect accused of shooting and killing Isabella Thallas while she was walking with her boyfriend and his dog on June 10.
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Her 21st birthday was two days before. Thallas' boyfriend, Darian Simon, was also shot and is recovering from his injuries.
According to court documents, suspect Michael Close, 36, fired the shots from his apartment window because he was angry the couple allowed their dog to defecate in an alley behind his unit.
A spokesperson for DPD said Close, a friend of Politica, took the rifle from his 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.
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.
DPD said it was determined Politica did not violate any department policies when his gun was stolen. The department does have a policy on firearms storage, but it only covers firearms that are authorized for on-duty use.
On Wednesday, a spokesman for DPD said there was not an active internal affairs investigation against Politica before he resigned, nor was there a criminal investigation.
Close is facing 22 charges including first-degree murder and several counts of possessing a prohibited large-capacity gun magazine.
"We've asked from day one, how this weapon became part of what's gone on," said Joshua Thallas, Isabella' father.
Thallas said their family is frustrated with prosecutors and DPD and is waiting for answers to questions they still have nearly a year after his daughter's death.
"How the weapon was obtained, how that played into this case, Dan Politica's role, how close he was with Michael Close, and what that looks like," Thallas said.
"We're approaching that [one] year timeframe and truly we know exactly what we knew the first 30 days of this case, which is truly mind boggling a year later – nothing new, nothing's progressed, nothing's come out."
In the year since Isabella's death, her family advocated for the passage of a new law in Colorado bearing her name. The Isabella Joy Thallas Act requires a gun owner to report a lost or stolen firearm within five days.
According to court records, Close does not have a prior criminal history in Colorado.
This story draws on previous reporting by Jeremy Jojola and Allison Levine.
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