DA's office clears deputy in fatal shooting

Carjacking suspect was killed in Centennial residential area in May

Posted 12/10/17

An officer-involved shooting in a residential area of Centennial May 31 that resulted in the death of a 17-year-old suspect from the southwest Denver area was justified, according to a review by the …

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DA's office clears deputy in fatal shooting

Carjacking suspect was killed in Centennial residential area in May

Posted

An officer-involved shooting in a residential area of Centennial May 31 that resulted in the death of a 17-year-old suspect from the southwest Denver area was justified, according to a review by the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office released Dec. 7.

The review, dated Sept. 19, said Robert Knudsen, a deputy for the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office, acted in line with laws that oversee use of force in defense of self and others, and use of deadly force by law enforcement, in shooting James Daniel Hill, born in 1999, in connection with a carjacking case. The review detailed the crimes and chase Hill was involved in.

“I find that Deputy Robert Knudsen reasonably believed that his life was in imminent danger, that (Hill) presented an imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death to other police officers and to members of the public,” said the review, signed by Karen Pearson, chief deputy district attorney for the office.

According to the findings of the review:

Hill and four others had been driving around in a stolen 2004 white Chevrolet Impala that day. The car was stolen sometime between the afternoons of May 28 and May 29 from 10260 Washington St. in Thornton. It's not known who stole the vehicle or if the five people were involved in that theft.

Hill was one of three males who robbed a man in a parking lot in the early morning of May 31 in the apartment complex at 15859 E. Jamison Drive, which sits in unincorporated Arapahoe County just south of Centennial. Hill was armed with a handgun, and the man gave up his wallet, phone and keys to the group. The three males got in the man's 2006 black Nissan Altima and drove away.

The group came back to the Impala, which they had parked in the area, picked up the two females and left as a full group in the Nissan.

Nearly half an hour later, at 5:11 a.m., Deputy Peter Tasei pursued the car with after coming to the area following a 911 call about the robbery. The Nissan accelerated, ran a red light and continued westbound on East Dry Creek Road.

Knudsen heard of the chase on his police radio and attempted to force the car to turn north on South Yosemite Street to avoid it getting close to residential areas. Knudsen positioned his car in the intersection, but the vehicle swerved around him. Knudsen then ran into the rear driver's side of the Nissan with his vehicle to stop it, and it spun out of control, ending up near the Saddle Ridge apartment complex at 8717 E. Dry Creek Road.

The five people in the car fled on foot. Hill ran while holding a handgun, and Knudsen continued to yell commands for him to stop and get down on the ground, warning that he would shoot if Hill didn't comply.

When Knudsen feared Hill would reach pavement — there were grassy areas in the complex — and get away, Knudsen fired two shots from his handgun, one of which hit Hill in the back and perforated his left lung. Knudsen called for paramedics and began applying pressure to the wound and performing CPR on Hill.

Hill was transported to Sky Ridge Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

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