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Officers justified in fatal shooting on golf course, DA says

The district attorney said the officers were justified in their use of force after the man disobeyed orders and pointed a handgun at officers.

ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. — A Thornton officer and a Northglenn officer will not be charged in connection with the fatal shooting of a homicide suspect on a golf course last August in part because the suspect fired at officers and demonstrated that he would use "any means possible" to evade officers.

The 17th district attorney, Brian Mason, outlined in a letter his decision to not file charges against Northglenn officer Charles Festi and Thornton officer Mikal Timm related to the Aug. 18, 2021, shooting of Lucas Antonio Salas.

>The video above aired on the day of the shooting last August.

At the time, Salas had an active arrest warrant for a parole violation and was wanted for his possible involvement in a murder in Alamosa.

Cheyenne Goins, 21, was reported missing by her family about a week prior to the shooting on Aug. 12, and both the Alamosa County Sheriff's Office (ACSO) and Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said at the time they were concerned that foul play was involved with her disappearance.

RELATED: Woman reported missing Aug. 12 found dead near Alamosa

According to CBI, which was asked to assist with the investigation by the ACSO, several people were in contact with Goins the night she went missing, including Salas.

Goins' body was found buried in a remote area of Alamosa County on Aug. 21, days after Salas was fatally shot by officers.

Credit: Colorado Bureau of Investigation
Cheyenne Goins

Northglenn Police said officers attempted to contact Salas around 11:30 a.m. Aug. 18, 2021, on the 300 block of Malley Drive, who then drove away north on Washington Street.

Officers from the Thornton Police Department responded to assist before the suspect's vehicle stopped at the side of the road at 136th Avenue, along Thorncreek Golf Course, according to NPD.

According to the DA's decision letter, Salas evaded police contact and drove recklessly on public highways in an apparent effort to avoid arrest.

During that time, the letter says, Salas demonstrated that he would use "any means possible" to evade police, even if it involved risks to the public.

RELATED: Homicide suspect shot by officers at Thornton golf course identified

Salas also fired a handgun at an officer during the chase, which showed his willingness to use violence and the danger he posed to those around him, the letter says.

Despite that, the officers gave "repeated" commands to Salas to get on the ground, but he refused, the letter says.

With Timm within arm’s reach trying to arrest him and the other two officers close by, Salas raised a handgun, pointed it at the officers and fired, the letter says.

No officers were struck, but due to the "immediate threat," officers responded with ready force, the letter says.

Timm and Festi both later stated that they discharged their firearms because they feared their lives were in danger if they failed to act.

“I was scared he was going to shoot the other officers … and kill them," Festi told investigators.

While there was no question that the officers' actions caused the death of Salas, the legal question was whether their conduct supported the filing of criminal charges.

Under Colorado law, officers have a right to reasonable force, and the DA's officer determined based on the circumstances that their use of force was justified.

The video below is body camera footage of the incident and includes graphic content:

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