Two Denver police officers shot and killed a man when he lunged at them with a knife during a home sweep on Wednesday morning, according to the police department.
Lt. Matt Clark on Thursday said the incident happened at 1:12 a.m. on New Year’s Day at 901 S. Irving St. in Westwood. Police were responding to a report of someone being attacked. The man fatally shot, identified as Gerardo Antonio Conchas-Bustos, 20, lived in the same home as the person who was attacked, along with other people.
No officers were injured in the incident. Clark said it wasn’t clear if Conchas-Bustos was under the influence of any substance. He said one officer fired one round and another fired five. Clark said he did not know how many times Conchas-Bustos had been struck.
A butcher-style knife with a 10-inch blade was recovered at the scene, Clark said. The incident was captured on the officer’s body-worn cameras.
At 12:50 a.m., police communications got a 911 call about a weapons complaint at 901 S. Irving St. Information was initially limited; Clark said the caller was speaking in Spanish and was frantic after being attacked. Cops were told the victim had left the home and would meet them nearby.
Officers met with the victim near West Mississippi Avenue and South Irving Street at about 1 a.m. The victim, who had visible injuries including bruises and a bloody nose, told police he rented a room in a house with Conchas-Bustos. The two had gotten into an argument that turned physical, and the victim telling police Conchas-Bustos attacked him and threatened him with a large butcher knife. The victim told officers Conchas-Bustos followed him and carried the knife when he tried to leave the house.
Clark said Spanish-speaking officers were there to speak to the victim. He told them two women also lived in the single-family, ranch-style home, but they weren’t part of their argument.
The victim told police he didn’t want to press charges against Conchas-Bustos. Clark said officers decided to do what’s called a civil standby, which meant they walked back into the house with the victim to attempt to prevent further disturbances and do a welfare check on the house. The officers announced their presence in the house in English and Spanish after being let in by the victim.
The officers didn’t hear a response, so they began a home sweep. Two officers were inside a kitchen in the house when, Clark said, Conchas-Bustos lunged at one officer from a nearby basement staircase leading into the kitchen. Clark said the officers weren’t aware of this stairway, which was near a garage area the officer was starting to check out. Clark said Conchas-Bustos didn’t say anything or make any noise before he lunged at the officer.
Clark said Conchas-Bustos lunged toward officers near the top of the stairs, coming toward an officer with a knife held “in an upward style, with the blade up.” The officer moved sideways and backward while simultaneously firing his gun at least five times. Clark said the second officer was immediately behind the first one and fired his gun after seeing the “attempted assault” on the other cop.
The two officers involved are patrol officers in southwest Denver’s District 4. Clark said one was hired in 2015 and another was hired in 2016. Neither have been involved in shootings. Both were placed on administrative duty, which is standard protocol.
A third officer was present at the scene helping with the sweep.
The incident remains under investigation.