No criminal charges for two Glendale officers who killed
No criminal charges will be filed against two Glendale police officers who fatally shot an unarmed man who had fallen asleep in a pickup truck on Colorado Boulevard and, when awoke, attempted to flee the scene in the truck, crashing into police cars.
John Pacheaco Jr., 36, was shot on Oct. 31, when officers Neal McCormick and Chandler Phillips fired multiple rounds at the truck with Pacheaco behind the wheel, hitting Pacheaco three times, including the left side of his face, the head and the neck, according to a decision letter on the shooting signed by Denver District Attorney Beth McCann.
The 10-page letter to Glendale Police Chief W.J. Haskins and Denver Chief Paul Pazen was signed Wednesday by McCann. The shooting was investigated by Denver police and the DA’s office.
McCormick fired seven rounds and Phillips fired 12, according to the letter. A toxicology report determined that methamphetamine was in Pacheaco’s blood.
When Pacheaco, who had fallen asleep with the truck still running as traffic moved around it, awoke, he drove forward hitting a parked patrol car. The shooting was caught on video, by a surveillance camera of a nearby business.
“Officer McCormick appears to be attempting to break the passenger window of the truck but is unsuccessful,” the letter said. The truck then goes backward, crashing into another police car before going further south and out of the surveillance camera frame.
A second video clip, taken by a witness and posted on Twitter, was also viewed by investigators. The 21-second clip “reflects several shots being fired at the approximate time that the truck reverses into Officer Reed’s patrol car,” according to the letter. Glendale officer Bradley Reed was the first officer on scene. Glendale police do not wear body cameras.
An expert consulted by the DA’s office opined that the “use of force was reasonable and necessary” based on a perception that McCormick was in danger of being hit by the truck, which had been reported stolen, the letter said. Another expert opined that Pacheaco “was a potential danger to others should he (have been) allowed to escape the control of the officers.”
Matthew A. Haltzman, a Fort Collins attorney who represents Pacheaco’s family, said on Wednesday in a written statement, that more videos were submitted to the DA’s office and that evidence indicates that the officers were safely clear of the truck when they fired.
“While Officer Phillips claims he believed his co-worker Office McCormick to be in danger of the vehicle crushing him, McCormick also opened fire and was out of harm’s way,” according to Haltzman. “Officers Phillips and McCormick’s reckless creation of any danger, followed by their
unreasonable use of deadly force after such danger had vanished, coupled with inadequate
training and supervision by the Glendale Police Department, ultimately led to and caused the
Officers to violate the Department’s use of force training, as well as Mr. Pacheaco’s rights under
the Fourth Amendment to (be) free from the unreasonable use of deadly force.”
McCann, in the letter, said the officers “acted in a way that minimized the likelihood of injury to others; their shots were at fairly close range and directed into the stolen truck.”
Pacheaco’s family, including his mother, are disappointed and dismayed by the decision not to charge the officers in the case, Haltzman said.
“The egregious and unjustifiable use of force by Officers Phillips and McCormick is symptomatic of a broader culture in law enforcement that tells officers to shoot first and ask questions later,” he said in a news release. “The video evidence already available in this case shows that no officer was hit by or endangered by Mr. Pacheaco before a dozen bullets were fired at him.”