Denver DA won’t file criminal charges against DOC officer who shot 16-year-old in the back

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DENVER (KDVR) — Denver District Attorney Beth McCann announced her office will not file criminal charges against Department of Corrections Investigator Desmond Manning in the late-April shooting death of Alexis Mendez-Perez in northeast Denver.

Denver police were called to East 51st Place, just north of Greenwood Elementary School, around 1:40 a.m. on April 23, according to a probable cause statement obtained by the FOX31 Problem Solvers. The statement says the woman who called 911 was reporting a burglary at the home directly behind hers, which she believed to be vacant.

When officers arrived on scene, the suspects started to run and some climbed over the back fence into a neighboring yard, according to the statement. In the 911 recording, operators can hear shots fired.

Investigators determined Desmond Manning shot 16-year-old Mendez-Perez, as the teenager was running through Manning’s back yard. 

The probable cause statement is for a second degree murder charge against Manning. 

Manning is a criminal investigator with the Colorado Department of Corrections. His job is to investigate criminal activity within the state’s prison system and review internal investigations into staff misconduct. He’s on administrative leave, according to a DOC spokeswoman.

An autopsy report obtained by the Problem Solvers says Mendez-Perez was shot in the mid-back, injuring his right lung. The report says “the entrance wound did not exhibit evidence of close-range discharge of a firearm.”

In a statement on Twitter, District Attorney Beth McCann explained her reasoning for not charging Manning by saying:

“We have great sympathy for Alexis Mendez-Perez’ family & understand that their lives are permanently altered. DA McCann & other members of our office met w the family & their attorney to inform them of our decision not to file criminal charges against Mr. Manning. That news was understandably difficult for them to hear. We met several times w the homicide detectives, spent an enormous amount of time examining the facts & concluded that we don’t have enough evidence for a jury to find Mr. Manning guilty of murder beyond a reasonable doubt. Not only does the law require us to prove the elements of murder, it also requires us to disprove that Mr. Manning was defending his own life and the lives of his family when he shot Mendez-Perez.”

Chad Oxman, the attorney representing the Mendez-Perez family, issued the following statement:

“We are obviously extremely disappointed with the District Attorney’s decision to not file
charges in the case. We still do not understand why the District Attorney declined to file charges as we have never been provided with the evidence they reviewed. We also do not understand why the defendant was released on a personal recognizance bond without anybody in Mr. Mendez-Perez’ family ever being notified. It is incomprehensible how anyone could shoot an unarmed 16 year old in the back without facing any criminal charges. At this time and in this environment, it is more important than ever that law enforcement officers be held accountable for their actions just like every other citizen. In this regard, we will continue to seek justice for Alexis and all others like him irrespective of the Denver District Attorney’s decision.”

An official hearing to drop charges against Manning will take place Thursday at 9 a.m. 

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