03/22/2006

Man 'critical' after being shot by Denver police on domestic call

Sarah Langbein, Rocky Mountain News\ News photographer Maria J. Ávila contributed to this report.

Copyright 2006 Denver Publishing Company 

What started as a heated confrontation over tax documents escalated into a near-deadly gunfight with Denver police officers, the suspect's wife said Monday.

Lorenzo Pasillas-Hernandez was shot three or four times by officers who responded to his home in the 3800 block of Adams Street on a domestic-violence call Sunday night, police said. They said he was wielding a gun.

The 60-year-old father of nine is in critical condition.

Pasillas-Hernandez's wife of 37 years, Maria, said she and her husband argued over tax forms that went missing. She said her son needed the papers for college, and she believed her husband had locked them away.

"I kept insisting that he give me those papers," she said.

"He was taking me by the wrist to show me he didn't have them. And I told him, no, I wasn't going with him."

Pasillas-Hernandez shoved his wife onto the couch and wrapped his hands around her neck, according to family members who witnessed the encounter.

" 'You'll see what you're going to get into,' " Maria Pasillas quoted her husband as saying. "He took out the pistol and began to put bullets into it.

"I told my children to go outside because I thought he was going to shoot us."

Susana Pasillas, 15, said she and her 11-year-old brother called 911 about 8:15 p.m. A third child was also in the home at the time.

"I haven't seen him that mad," Susana Pasillas said. "I didn't know what made him get the gun."

As the family congregated in the front yard, Maria Pasillas said her husband came out on the porch with the gun in hand. When police arrived, he ran from the house, she said, and officers yelled for her and the three children to get behind the police cars.

"Before I got into the (police) car, I heard two gunshots," she said.

Officers found Pasillas-Hernandez a block away, Police Chief Gerry Whitman said, and he appeared to have a previously inflicted injury to his face or neck.

The chief said 12 officers negotiated with the suspect in Spanish and English, asking him to drop the gun and get on the ground.

As he attempted to kneel down, Whitman said Pasillas-Hernandez's gun went off. None of the officers fired back.

Later, however, the suspect stood up and swung around with the gun raised and pointed at a nearby female officer, Whitman said. Seven officers opened fire. They were not identified by the police department Monday.

The District Attorney's Office is expected to make a decision in two to three weeks whether criminal charges will be filed against any of the officers, Police Independent Monitor Richard Rosenthal said.

If Pasillas-Hernandez survives, he faces possible charges of domestic violence, assault on a peace officer, felony menacing and discharging a firearm.

"It appears the officers did exactly what they were trained to do," Whitman said.

"They showed great restraint. I'm very proud of them."

Pasillas-Hernandez had been arrested for domestic violence before, according to court documents and his wife. In 1995, he spent four days in jail for hitting her in the face. He was ordered to go to domestic violence classes and spent a year on probation.

"He's always been very angry," his wife said.

If her husband survives, Maria Pasillas said she doesn't want him to come home - a hard reality for her grandchildren, who say they'll miss playing soccer and basketball with him and receiving piggyback rides.

"That was too much," she said of Sunday night. "Frankly, I'm just tired. I don't even care for him anymore. I used to love him a lot." 
 
langbeins@RockyMountainNews.com or 303-892-2536
 
Photo, Jasmine Pasillas, 9, holds on to her grandmother Maria Pasillas while sisters Laura Pasillas, 7, and Lesly Gutierrez, 1, listen to their grandmother on Monday. Maria Pasillas said her husband became violent late Sunday, the police were called and her husband was shot. MARIA J. ÁVILA / ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS
 
March 21, 2006

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