UPDATE: Denver’s medical examiner on Wednesday identified the man who was fatally shot as Adam Martinez, 36. The examiner determined the cause of death was from multiple gunshot wounds and the manner of death is a homicide.
Three Denver police officers fatally shot a man Monday after he pointed an officer’s rifle at them while inside a stolen police cruiser, police said Tuesday.
Denver police Lt. Matt Clark said one of the officers was involved in a fatal officer shooting earlier this year. Clark declined to say when that previous shooting incident happened. Denver police have been involved in at least four other fatal shootings this year.
The three patrol officers have not been identified. The shooting was captured on the officer’s body-worn cameras.
Clark said the unidentified man died at the scene near the Interstate 25 underpass along Eighth Avenue in Lincoln Park. The shooting took place shortly after 2 p.m. on Monday. Police said the man had previously tried carjacking another vehicle before he was able to get inside a police cruiser and drive it for about six minutes.
Police shot the man after he ignored officer commands and pointed a department-issued rifle toward police officers while the stolen police cruiser was pinned, Clark said. The rifle was not loaded, which is standard.
Clark said the officers had “no way of knowing” the rifle wasn’t loaded.
“All the equipment necessary to load that weapon is at the subject’s disposal,” Clark said. “The ammunition is there, the magazine, if he has any knowledge of the weapon, it can be easily charged and made ready.”
Clark said there was no evidence suggesting the man was able to fire the rifle. The officers used their handguns.
Clark said the department is investigating whether the rifle was properly secured. Department policy requires the rifle to be secured in the car’s trunk or on a rack in the car.
One officer who fatally shot someone else earlier this year was hired in 2013. The other officers were hired in 2014 and in 2016. Clark said the officers are on modified duty and are not on patrol.
The man’s autopsy was completed on Tuesday. Clark said his family is being notified. While police have identified the man, they said the medical examiner or the department will release the man’s name.
The incident started with an attempted carjacking at a car wash at 603 Santa Fe Drive.
A person using a vacuum there reported a man tried stealing his car at knife-point. That person was uninjured and fled, and reported the incident with a detailed description of the man, who also fled.
Clark said officers were relatively close to the scene and arrived “within minutes.” The officers pursued the man and tried to talk to him, but he didn’t respond to the officer’s orders and instead walked away.
Another officer tried to block the man’s path as he headed west, but the man continued ignoring officers’ commands, Clark said. Another officer tried to use his stun gun, but for unknown reasons, it “wasn’t effective.”
The man then got inside the parked police cruiser. Clark said the car was running, the keys were in the ignition and the overhead lights were on. Clark said the cop whose car was stolen had gotten out of his car to try to confront the man.
The man then led police on a chase, during which he pointed the rifle at them, Clark said. The chase ended when cops were able to pin the stolen car near the underpass along Eighth Avenue near Zuni Street. That’s where officers said the man pointed the gun at them and they fired at the man.
Clark said they took the man out of the car after the shooting to render aid, but he was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.
The investigation remains open. Clark said additional officers still need to be interviewed.