Denver officer suspended 18 days after leaving rifle unlocked in patrol car

Problem Solvers

DENVER (KDVR) — The fatal police shooting of a carjacking suspect is not why Officer Ana Munoz will serve an 18-day suspension, but the event is related.

Munoz left her department-issued rifle in the front passenger seat of her patrol car, which allowed the suspect to use it as a threat toward other officers after he stole Munoz’s patrol car.

Twenty-six-year-old Adam Martinez would be shot dead by other officers after waving the rifle outside the car window during a police chase on Oct. 21, 2019.

The deadly encounter began after Munoz and another officer responded to an attempted carjacking at knifepoint at a car wash. Munoz and the other officer soon found Martinez nearby walking in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.

Martinez ignored officer commands to lie down and prongs from a taser missed him. Instead, Martinez jumped into Munoz’s patrol car, where her AR-15 was lying in the passenger seat in an unlocked case.

Officers gave chase and crashed into the stolen police car on 8th Avenue under the Interstate 25 overpass.

Three officers shot and killed Martinez after they say he pointed Munoz’s rifle at them. It turns out Munoz’s rifle was unloaded, but one of her 30-round magazines was in the front seat.

According to the disciplinary letter obtained by the Problem Solvers, it’s department policy for Denver officers to keep their rifles locked in the trunk or to use a locking rack. Munoz had attended a training on safe weapon storage just 11 days before the shooting.

Munoz could have faced a 42-day suspension for the rule violation but was given the lowest possible penalty because of her remorse and the fact that she had no prior discipline.

Denver District Attorney Beth McCann later found the officers did not break the low or violate policy when they shot Martinez dead.

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