DA clears 7 Denver officers who fired at man

Hector Gutierrez, Rocky Mountain News
Copyright 2006 Denver Publishing Company

The Denver district attorney on Tuesday cleared seven officers of criminal wrongdoing for firing 13 rounds last month at an armed man who allegedly assaulted his wife prior to the gunfire.

Lorenzo Pasillas-Hernandez, 60, suffered gunshot wounds in his right leg, an entry wound in the stomach and exit wound in his back. Pasillas-Hernandez also suffered a wound in his jaw that investigators believe was self-inflicted, District Attorney Mitch Morrissey wrote in a letter to police Chief Gerry Whitman that explained his decision not to pursue a criminal case against the officers.

Several officers had pursued Pasillas-Hernandez in the Clayton neighborhood on March 19 after receiving a call from his 11-year-old son that his parents and brother were fighting, according to Morrissey's letter.

He allegedly choked his wife before he went to the bedroom to retrieve his gun. Pasillas-Hernandez's family then left the house at 3847 Adams St. and went to their backyard, the top prosecutor wrote.

Meanwhile, Pasillas-Hernandez fled on foot still armed, and officers heard a gunshot. As officers pursued him they saw he was bleeding from his face, the district attorney said.

In the 3000 block of East 37th Avenue, Pasillas-Hernandez turned toward the pursuing officers. They shouted commands in English and Spanish to drop the gun and surrender, Morrissey wrote.

Instead, Pasillas-Hernandez continued to wave his gun in his right hand, according to the findings. Officers told investigators they saw Pasillas-Hernandez kneel to the ground before standing up again. When he stood he allegedly pointed the gun at the officers.

Several officers said they saw him fire one round from his gun. Seven of the officers then returned fire, wounding Pasillas-Hernandez. 
April 12, 2006

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