DENVER (KDVR) — A Longmont officer will not face criminal charges after firing at a homeowner who shot a pellet gun at him thinking he was an intruder, the 20th Judicial District Attorney’s Office said in a statement on Thursday.
Neither the homeowner nor any officers were injured in the shooting, and the DA’s office determined the officer’s actions were legally justified in the incident on June 15.
Police track stolen car in Longmont
The DA’s decision letter said a Toyota Highlander with an unsecured firearm inside was reported stolen on the morning of June 15. The Longmont Police Department tracked it later in the evening and tried to stop it with road sticks.
The driver continued after the stopping mechanism was deployed and crashed in the area of 2213 Frontier St. When officers found the SUV, it was discovered that the gun was missing from the console.
A search for the suspect was launched and police received a call of an intruder in a garage at a home in the area, the DA’s letter said.
Longmont officers, SWAT surround home
Because of the threat of an armed suspect, SWAT was called to the home. When police got to the house, they said the garage door was open and their presence was repeatedly announced, the letter said.
Officers “ordered anyone in the garage to come out with their hands up, and warned of the use of a K-9,” the letter said. This was done a few times, but no one came out.
While the officers were gathered outside the home, a dispatcher received a call from the homeowners inside.
“On the recording of the 911 call, the dispatcher is heard telling Homeowner #1 and Homeowner #2 to remain locked in the basement of their home and that officers were gathered outside the residence,” the letter said.
The homeowner told the dispatcher he had a pistol, and the letter said that he gave permission for police to enter the home. The dispatcher told the homeowner police would announce themselves before entering.
The dispatcher transferred the homeowner to the commander and sergeant in front of the home. While on the phone with the homeowner, the letter said they heard the homeowner yell “something to the effect of, ‘What are you doing? Get out of here! Stop!'”
At that point, the commander gave the order for officers to enter the home fearing the homeowners were in danger, the letter said.
First SWAT officers who entered home said gun was pointed at them
When SWAT officers announced themselves multiple times for 15-30 seconds outside the door, a man could be heard yelling, “Get the f— out!” the letter said. That led police to believe there was more imminent danger for the homeowners.
Officers Nathan Miller and Seth Roberts were the first to breach the door and said they saw a gun pointed at them when they entered. Miller fired seven rounds before the homeowner yelled at him to stop firing and that it was just them, the letter said.
“While speaking with Officer Matthew Gadbois, Homeowner #1 stated that he had pointed his pistol, later determined to be a pellet gun, at the front door when the officers entered the home,” the letter said.
Officers brought the homeowners out and searched the house for the suspect but did not find him.
The homeowner told officers that he fired a couple of shots from his pellet gun because “he believed it was the ‘bad guy’ entering the front door.”
Luckily, no one was injured in the shooting and the DA’s office determined that “the officer’s use of force to prevent ‘imminent threat of injury to the peace officer’ was reasonable — as defined by law,” the letter said.
“Bad decisions and miscommunication almost resulted in tragedy. What started as a stolen car quickly escalated because an unsecured gun had been left inside the car. A homeowner fired a pellet gun at the police and a police officer returned fire because each of them believed the other to be an armed intruder,” District Attorney Michael Dougherty said in a statement. “It is incredibly fortunate that no one was injured or killed in this confusing sequence of events. However, the legal analysis is clear because there is no indication or evidence that the officer committed a crime.”
The DA’s office said the suspect was located hiding in a neighbor’s backyard and arrested.