Denver cops who fatally shot Antonio Blackbear in September were legally justified, DA decides

Police shot and killed Blackbear on Sept. 9 in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.

A still provided by Denver police showing Antonio Blackbear pointing an air soft gun at police officers inside an unmarked cruiser.

A still provided by Denver police showing Antonio Blackbear pointing an air soft gun at police officers inside an unmarked cruiser.

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

The Denver District Attorney’s office on Monday said two police officers acted lawfully when they fatally shot Antonio Blackbear on Sept. 9.

District Attorney Beth McCann determined officers Kyle Saunier and Lynnea Vento were legally justified in shooting Blackbear, 41, who had what turned to be an air soft gun that looked similar to a Glock handgun, according to McCann’s decision letter.

The two officers were responding to several 911 calls about an armed person near Inca Street and 10th Avenue. McCann called the situation “clear cut” in a statement, adding that Blackbear, “was threatening lives as these officers responded to several community members’ calls for help.”

When the cops arrived at the scene at 5:19 p.m., they saw Blackbear point his replica gun at people inside a car. The two officers unholstered their guns and got out of their car without alerting Blackbear. They monitored Blackbear before one of the officers yelled at him to show his hands, which prompted Blackbear to point the replica gun toward the officers and begin walking toward them, according to McCann’s decision letter. This prompted the officers to shoot Blackbear.

McCann’s letter said the first few shots did not hit Blackbear, who kept walking toward the officers while pointing the replica gun at them. In total, Saunier shot nine times, while Vento shot four times. Blackbear was killed by a single gunshot to the head, according to the decision letter. The letter said the the air soft gun found at the scene and seized by police was “indistinguishable” from a real Glock 17 Gen 3 semi-automatic gun.

The medical examiner’s office said Blackbear’s cause of death was from a gunshot wound and the manner of death was listed as a homicide. He died at Denver Health. Blackbear was one of three men fatally shot by Denver police in September over a six-day span between Sept. 9 and Sept. 15.

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