O∞cer “legally jus­ti­fied” in death Prose­cu­tors an­nounce find­ing on Den­ver cop who shot wanted, sui­ci­dal, knife-wield­ing man in Aug.

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Jesse Paul

A Den­ver po­lice of­fi­cer was “legally jus­ti­fied” when he shot and killed a wanted and sui­ci­dal, knife-wield­ing man dur­ing an Au­gust con­fronta­tion in the cramped quar­ters of a home in the Baker neigh­bor­hood, prose­cu­tors an­nounced Tues­day.

Terry Lee Salazar, 49, died in the Aug. 27 en­counter near the in­ter­sec­tion of Fox Street and West Ellsworth Av­enue. He was wanted on four ar­rest war­rants in 2016 cases, two of which were for felony drug of­fenses, an­other for a do­mes­tic vi­o­lence as­sault case and a fourth for fail­ing to ap­pear in court for a traf­fic of­fense al­le­ga­tion, the Den­ver district at­tor­ney’s of­fice says.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors say Salazar asked two of­fi­cers on scene that day to shoot and kill him, say­ing, “I’m not go­ing to prison” and “Just kill me, shoot me,” as he ap­proached them with the knife. Of­fi­cer Antony Gu­tier­rez-McKain shot Salazar five times, ac­cord­ing to prose­cu­tors.

“The ev­i­dence shows that Of­fi­cer Gu­tier­rez-McKain was clearly act­ing in self­de­fense,” Den­ver District At­tor­ney Mitch Mor­ris­sey wrote in a let­ter an­nounc­ing his de­ci­sion that the shoot­ing was jus­ti­fied. “No wit­ness or ev­i­dence con­tra­dicts or dis­putes this. There­fore, crim­i­nal charges are not legally or eth­i­cally ap­pro­pri­ate and will not be filed.”

The or­deal be­gan when in­ves­ti­ga­tors say Salazar stabbed one of his room­mates in the chest and cut his arm with a large knife. A woman also liv­ing at the house called 911 ask­ing for po­lice help and telling a dis­patcher that Salazar was wanted.

Of­fi­cers Gu­tier­rez-McKain and Sean Kelly were dis­patched to the house. Shortly af­ter they ar­rived, the let­ter says Salazar briefly came out­side, but when he saw po­lice he ran up the stairs to the sec­ond level of the home and went into a small bed­room with a woman.

Gu­tier­rez-McKain had his hand­gun out and Kelly was hold­ing his Taser. When they heard the woman scream, the of­fi­cers en­tered the room and saw Salazar with a large black knife in his hand, which prompted an elon­gated stand­off as he waved the blade, Mor­ris­sey’s let­ter says.

“Salazar raised (the knife) and be­gan swing­ing it at the of­fi­cers,” the let­ter says. “Gu­tier­rez-McKain pointed his hand­gun at Salazar and shouted com­mands to put the knife down.”

At one point, Of­fi­cer Kelly fired his Taser at Salazar, which briefly stopped him be­fore he pulled out the de­vice’s probes and “(con­tin­ued) his ag­gres­sion, still wield­ing the knife,” au­thor­i­ties say.

Even­tu­ally, the con­fronta­tion spilled out of the bed­room and into a hall­way as Salazar be­gan yelling about try­ing to re­trieve a gun. The let­ter says Salazar ad­vanced to­ward Gu­tier­rez-McKain with the knife as the of­fi­cer shouted, “Put the knife down. I don’t want to shoot you.”

Gu­tier­rez-McKain, who was backed up to a wall, then opened fire, killing Salazar, ac­cord­ing to the re­port. The of­fi­cer es­ti­mated Salazar was just two arm’slengths away at the time.

In ad­di­tion to the sui­ci­dal com­ments he made dur­ing the en­counter, the let­ter says Salazar had also told his sis­ter the night be­fore the shoot­ing: “This time they’re not tak­ing me alive. They will have to kill me.”

Mor­ris­sey’s let­ter says an au­topsy re­vealed there was am­phet­a­mine and metham­phetamine in Salazar’s blood.

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