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Few details released about fatal shooting involving Englewood police

The 18th Judicial District Attorney will at some point decide whether the officers involved will face any criminal charges.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — There are still few details being released about a shooting involving Englewood police officers on Sunday night. One of the most critical unanswered questions: did police kill a man who wasn't shooting at them?

A 29-year-old man was arrested, but his 22-year-old brother was shot and killed. The district attorney's office will at some point decide whether the officers involved will face any criminal charges. 

The Englewood Police Department is still not answering critical questions about the shooting at a home on Grove Street. It may be weeks to months before the public gets answers.

"Law enforcement agencies by law now are required to put out a brief statement, and that is what they are. It's a brief statement that gives very little facts," said Dan May, the former district attorney in the 4th Judicial District, which covers El Paso and Teller Counties.

May knows how these investigations work. As the district attorney in Colorado Springs, he reviewed many shootings involving police officers. 

Now, the DA in Arapahoe County will have to decide if the Englewood officers involved in Sunday's shooting will face charges. 

Police arrested 29-year-old Phillip Blankenship after, they say, he shot at them, so they fired back. 

Blankenship's 22-year-old brother, Matthew Neal Mitchell, died. The department won't say if officers killed him.

RELATED: Affidavit: Suspect's brother fatally shot in home after Englewood officers return fire

Blankenship reported Michell didn't fire a weapon, and that he himself was the only one who fired shots from inside the home, according to the affidavit.

The incident began when Blankenship's mom called police around 7:30 p.m. Sunday, saying that he was intoxicated and causing a disturbance. She further said that Blankenship was suicidal and had fired a gun inside the home, according to the document.

When Englewood Police officers arrived, they commanded Blankenship to exit the house. They heard a man say "give me a minute" and then heard the man say he was "almost ready" to come out, the affidavit says.

After that, however, Blankenship fired a single shot through the front window from inside the home toward a vehicle, the document says.

An officer who took cover behind the vehicle wasn't hurt, but the bullet did hit the vehicle's windshield, the affidavit says.

A second officer on the north side of the house across the street began "taking rounds which were coming from inside the house," according to the document. That officer's vehicle was struck, but the officer wasn't hit.

Englewood officers returned fire, and Blankenship came out of the home and was arrested, the affidavit says.

Mitchell was inside the home and suffered a fatal gunshot wound, the affidavit says.

"What is unique here is the person who may have been shot may not have been the perpetrator, and that person does have rights different than the perpetrator," May said.

RELATED: Man killed in shootout between Englewood Police and suspect identified

A group of law enforcement agencies is looking at video and interviewing witnesses to help the DA decide whether the officers will face charges. May said one important question they'll try to answer is whether officers knew other people were inside the house.

"Should they have known a third party was there? Were they acting recklessly?" May said. 

He said officers can defend themselves if they reasonably believe they're in danger, but the law doesn't protect someone from being charged for killing an innocent person.

"They can fire back, but they have to do it in a way -- if they know there is a third party there -- they are not purposefully endangering their lives or criminally negligently endangering their lives," he said. 

Once the agencies wrap up their investigation, they will hand over everything to the DA. 

May said the reason police haven't said who killed the man may be because it requires ballistics testing. They will have to find the bullet and compare it to the guns used at the scene, which could take some time.


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