AURORA, Colo. — A former Greenwood Village Police officer has been charged in the shooting death of 17-year-old Peyton Blitstein on the day before Thanksgiving, according to the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office.
The Aurora Police Department (APD) said Blitstein died after exchanging gunshots with 36-year-old Adam Holen about 10:30 p.m. Nov. 24 in the 4900 block of South Addison Way.
Earlier this week, APD filed an arrest warrant for Holen and the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office was reviewing the recommendation before determining whether charges would be filed.
On Wednesday, court records show that Holen was charged with:
- Second-degree murder
- Felony menacing
- Prohibited use of a weapon while drunk
- 2 violent crime sentence enhancers
Records show that his bail was set at $50,000.
On Wednesday night, Blitstein said the fact that charges were officially filed, felt like a weight lifted.
“There’s a huge weight lifted off now that it’s been locked down so that where we do have charges – everybody has been able to take that deep breath," he said. "It was um – exciting. And I'm glad that Peyton was able to get some type of basically like success in his honor today."
However, he said as time passed, he held concern about charges being initially filed since nearly a month since the incident had passed.
He added that the situation has still been hard to process.
"Because there’s still a lot going on in that video. I’m still hoping to see justice come out and some other things come out of that video that hopefully provides some more information," he said. "The overall message to the community is, you know, don't take situations in your own hands. Like they say, if you find something wrong and – it's something that would warrant the police, call the police, don't take it into your own hands. That's the way we've always felt. Payton felt the same way. I'm glad that we were able to come to the success of charges being placed on Mr. Holen. However, hopefully in the next year, 18 months, however long this trial lasts, we see a lot less of these type of situations," he said.
After interviewing witnesses, APD detectives determined the incident started with an argument between the former officer and a group of teenagers over alleged careless driving in the neighborhood.
According to the affidavit for Holen's arrest, Blitstein shot first at Holer who then returned fire. However, when Blitstein fired his weapon, Holer was advancing toward him and another teen, according to the document.
Security video from Amber Roseborough's Ring camera shows Holen in a truck. It captures Holen getting out and walking behind the back of a car.
> The shooting was caught on the doorbell camera of a nearby home. Warning: This video contains images and audio that may be difficult for some people to watch, including graphic language and gun violence.
Standing with Todd Blitstein on Wednesday night, Roseborough explained that she was in bed that night when she heard yelling through her window.
She added that her daughter was driving that night, and came running into the house trying to explain what was happening.
"And so I opened the door to say what the heck's going on. But when I said what? Then gunshots happened," she said in part. "...And I got all the kids inside, and I turned around and saw a body on the road and in front of my daughter's car, and I went inside and I got my mom's phone that was closest to me called 911."
It can be seen in the video that Roseborough and others move towards Peyton after Holen left to move his car.
Roseborough said she began CPR until help arrived. She added that her daughter still struggles with what happened that night. She too had a message for the community about what happened.
"That it's OK to walk away. None of this should have happened. It didn't have to. And the way that an adult is behaving to children? It's not OK, it's not OK," she said.
She said it's a bittersweet feeling to have the charges filed, as she waits to see what happens next.
"Peyton deserves justice," she said.
Holen used to be an officer with Greenwood Village Police Department (GVPD) and is not currently employed by any law enforcement agency.
According to GVPD records, Holen joined the department in August 2016 and resigned on Nov. 1 of this year.
9NEWS legal expert Scott Robinson said Wednesday that the charges against the former officers appear to have been almost inevitable.
"In Colorado, the key question is who was the initial aggressor? Because if you're the initial aggressor, you can't use self-defense as a defense at trial and you don't look to what happened minutes before terms of cars and who's driving where. The key point for initial aggressor is in the moments immediately before the shooting. And at least looking at that citizen door video, it sure appears that the ex-officer's clearly the initial aggressor," he said.
If convicted of second-degree murder, he said the sentencing range is from 16 to 48 years, but the mandatory minimum is 16 years.
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