A detective spotted an armed robbery suspect driving near East Colfax Avenue on Wednesday, leading to a chase that ended with the suspect wedging his vehicle between two cars before being fatally shot by Denver police officers.
Cmdr. Barb Archer said three officers were involved in the shooting during a press conference Friday. She said one of the officers opened fire behind the suspect’s car from inside his own car, shooting through the vehicle’s windshield. The shooting happened around 4:50 p.m. Wednesday.
Denver’s Office of the Medical Examiner on Friday identified the suspect, Charles Boeh, 36, as the man fatally shot by police. Boeh was pronounced dead at the scene. Archer said he was wanted for two armed robberies in Colorado and six in Missouri.
The examiner’s office said Boeh’s cause of death was “multiple gunshot wounds” and the manner of death was homicide.
The shooting incident marks the second time Denver police officers have fatally shot a suspect this year. Like Wednesday’s shooting, a shooting last month involved a suspect who was inside a car when police opened fire.
In that incident, Denver police shot at a car they believed contained manhunt suspect Mauricio Venzor-Gonzalez (who remains at large) after believing the car’s occupants were looking for a gun. Venzor-Gonzalez wasn’t inside, but one of his associates, Steven Nguyen, 23, was. Nguyen died from the gunshot wounds at Denver Health Medical Center.
A passenger inside Boeh’s car, an Audi, was taken to Denver Health Medical Center with minor injuries; she was also interviewed by police as part of the investigation and was jailed for a parole violation out of Missouri. Archer said an officer at the scene was also transported to a hospital with minor injuries.
The officers who opened fire are all patrol officers assigned to District 2. Archer said they have been placed on administrative leave, per protocol, and will be transferred to off-line assignments while the Denver’s District Attorney’s Office investigates the shooting.
Archer said Boeh was spotted by a detective in an unmarked vehicle who then relayed the info to patrol officers over the radio.
The detective was following up on a lead when he spotted the suspect driving in an Audi convertible with its top down. He did not attempt to follow him.
Patrol officers first attempted making contact with Boeh near Colfax and Syracuse Street. Boeh fled at high speed, pin-balling off cars on Colfax before winding up wedged between two cars near westbound Quebec Street. Archer said Boeh had a gun in his hands the entire time he was driving; a firearm matching the officer’s description was later recovered at the scene.
One police cruiser ended up behind Boeh’s car to try and prevent him from moving further. Additional officers arrived on scene, effectively flanking Boeh on both sides. Archer said the officer in the vehicle behind Boeh noticed him pointing firearm at one of the officers off to Boeh’s right side, prompting him to open fire. The two other officers opened fire at the same time.
Some witnessed at the scene required hospitalization for minor injuries. At least eight civilian cars were damaged in the ensuing chase, Archer said.
“His actions created a very dangerous situation for the citizens (in the area),” Archer said.
Officers are allowed to shoot into cars, but they can’t be moving.
Archer said Denver police’s policy does not allow them to shoot at a moving vehicle. She said Boeh’s car was at rest when officers opened fire.
A threat has to be more than just the car for officers to respond with gunfire; Boeh was armed, which is why Archer said officers Archer said they don’t believe Boeh shot at police.
It’s unclear if this current policy will stay in place once the department rolls out it’s new use-of-force policy, Archer said.
“With every shooting like this, we review it to make sure it falls into parameters of the law and then we also do an internal review to make sure it falls within the policy,” Archer said. “That will be part of the final review.”
The investigation into the shooting is completed collaboratively with Denver’s homicide unit, Aurora police’s homicide unit, the DA’s office and Office of the Independent Monitor.