DENVER – The Denver District Attorney's Office will not file charges against the officer who shot and killed a man who advanced on police while armed with a knife during a July incident.
A decision letter about the shooting was released Monday, in addition to a full video, which shows the suspect, identified as 35-year-old Paul Castaway, advancing on a Denver Police officer while brandishing a knife. He was accused of stabbing his mother, prompting authorities to respond.
In the letter, Denver DA Mitch Morrissey said his investigation revealed Castaway was suicidal and a danger to Officer Michael Traudt.
"The surveillance video clearly depicts Castaway moving quickly and purposely toward Officer Traudt. Castaway's actions and the statements he made suggest he had decided to die and further decided that Officer Traudt would be the instrument of his demise," Morrissey said. "Officer Traudt's decision to fire his pistol was, under these circumstances objectively reasonable and appropriate.
Castaway died after the shooting of multiple gunshot wounds to his torso. Traudt was placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation, per department policy.
"Indeed, Castaway gave him no other choice. Officer Traudt's actions are justifiable under Colorado Law and, accordingly, I will not file criminal charges against Officer Traudt," the letter from Morrissey goes on to say.
The July 12 incident started when Castaway went into his mother's house at 4545 Morrison Road without her permission. She told investigators that she had "kicked him out" due to his substance abuse.
According to the DA's Office, Castaway was drunk when he broke into the trailer, and poked his mother, Lillian Castaway, with a knife.
Authorities say he proceeded to leave through the back door. Lillian Castaway ran across the street and called 911. The DA's Office said Jillian Castaway told the dispatcher her son was doing meth and suicidal. She also told them she believed he had a long kitchen knife in his front pocket.
Two DPD officers, Michael Traudt and Jerry Lara, responded shortly thereafter. After taking a statement from Jillian Castaway, they escorted her back to her home. That's when she told the officers she saw Paul Castaway, who ran away once he spotted police.
The officers ran after Castaway until they reached the eastern-most part of the trailer park. They say he took off the Broncos jersey he was wearing and dropped it to the ground. He held up a knife, that Lara described as "a pretty long knife, has a brown, like wooden handle on it."
Castaway then put the knife to his throat. Traudt told investigators that Castaway told the officers to kill him. The officers told him to drop the knife.
He ran away again, according to the DA's Office. Traudt then drew his gun and pointed it at Castaway, but said he then realized there were "five or six kids" behind him.
Traudt says the kids scattered, and he pointed his gun back at Castaway, who jumped out from behind a corner with a knife to his throat.
"He immediately started walking towards me aggressively and – and it wasn't even a walk – it was – a fast walk," Traudt told investigators.
Traudt said he tripped slightly while he stepped backward, and Castaway continued to advance him, moving the "knife from his throat to me."
"I knew that those kids were still behind me," Traudt said. "They weren't listening for me tell them to go into the house. I – at that point, when that knife came down and he was so close, I – I made the decision to shoot. I thought he was going to stab me with the knife. I thought he was going to try to kill me."
The video in full is posted on the Denver DA's website: http://bit.ly/1j5HCkt
(© 2015 KUSA)