Man accused of killing Jefferson County K-9 denies fatally shooting dog, claims he thought he shot the ground

Jefferson County K-9 Graffit was shot and killed Feb. 13 after tracking suspect
JCSO K9 Graffit
Posted at 1:24 PM, Feb 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-21 19:55:27-05

GOLDEN, Colo. – A man accused of shooting and killing a Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office K-9 last week denied firing a round from his gun at the dog and assumed he shot the ground instead, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by Denver7 Tuesday.

Eduardo Armando Romero, 29, is accused of eluding officers with the Golden Police Department and later, ramming into patrol cars in the early hours of Feb. 13 near the Colorado School of Mines, after they found him slumped over and unresponsive near 19th and Elm Streets shortly after midnight that day.

Arresting documents show officers with the Golden Police Department were called to the area of 18th and Elm Streets on a report of a vehicle blocking traffic. Investigators later found out the vehicle – a 2015 white Jeep Wrangler – was reported stolen out of Englewood on Dec. 14, 2022.

When officers arrived at the scene, they attempted to contact Romero who was “slumped over and appeared passed out in the driver’s seat with the car running,” according to the affidavit.

One of the responding officers opened the car door and the suspect started driving the Jeep slowly, going about 6 mph westbound on 19th Street, across Highway 6, documents show. The Jeep was driving erratically all over the road, officers said.

The affidavit states officers then pinched the Jeep to prevent Romero from moving the car again, with one officer backing his patrol car into the front of the Jeep while another blocked him from behind.

Romero then began ramming both patrol cars, arresting documents show.

An officer at the scene then started breaking the driver’s side window and was able to grab hold of Romero’s wristwatch to stop him from ramming the patrol cars, but the watch slipped off and Romero was able to escape the vehicle, running eastbound on 19th Street, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit states the officer who chased after him was about to grab Romero when the suspect turned around and pointed a silver barreled handgun at the office’s abdomen. The officer then dove to the ground to avoid being hit by any possible gunfire.

Police said Romero continued running across the Highway 6 bridge and crested the hill at the northeast corner of the bridge and 19th Street. At that point, officers lost sight of the suspect, officials wrote.

A perimeter was established around Elm Street and W. Campus Road and Colorado School of Mines officials sent out an alert warning anybody on campus to shelter-in-place. Additional officers, along with the sheriff’s office K-9 units, were called to the scene to track down and apprehend Romero.

Jefferson County Deputy Sheriff Zachary Oliver and his K-9, Graffit, were among the units called to the scene, the affidavit states. K-9 Graffit was able to track Romero down to a brush which sits west of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity and the dog was released to apprehend the suspect.

The affidavit then states a later review of the body camera footage from one of the deputies showed the moment Graffit entered the brush and a gunshot is heard, followed by another two shots from a deputy at the scene.

“A few seconds after those shots, a dog yelp is heard. K9 Deputy Oliver called for K9 Graffit and did not get a response. K9 Graffit was pronounced deceased on scene,” the affidavit reads.

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Romero, who would then run from the brush toward Elm Street and hide underneath a black Yukon SUV for about 10-15 minutes before surrendering to police, told detectives he did not point his handgun at the K-9 and heard the gun fire a round but assumed he shot the ground, according to the affidavit.

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It was during this interview with police in which the suspect admitted being “dazed and confused” during the initial contact with officers and claimed he had no recollection of driving slowly but erratically westbound on 19th Street. The suspect claimed he could only remember being woken up by officers right before he allegedly rammed into their patrol cars, the affidavit states.

Asked about what he was doing the night before the encounter with police, Romero told detectives he "smoked a blunt" before going to Whisky Row in downtown Denver to watch the Super Bowl LVII game between the Chiefs and the Eagles.

He claimed to have consumed three “house margs” at the bar and also blamed his confusion on having a food coma after eating a lot at the bar.

When asked about why he pointed a gun at an officer, Moreno said “his handgun was moving around in his holster so he unholstered it and placed it into his right hand,” according to the affidavit.

The suspect also said he ran away from police because he aware that there were warrants out for his arrest. A criminal background search for Romero revealed he had several active warrants and “a history of crimes related to but not limited to forgery, theft and DUI,” the affidavit states. A search through DMV records also showed Romero had his licensed revoked for being a habitual traffic offender.

In all, police said he caused about $6,400 worth of damages for allegedly ramming into the the patrol cars with the stolen Jeep, which he claimed to have bought two weeks ago from another man, of which he had proof inside the vehicle. A search of the Jeep, however, did not turn up a bill of sale or anything that resembles such, arresting documents show.

Romero was booked into the Jefferson County Detention Facility, where he remains on a $300,000 cash-only bond.

He faces several charges, including aggravated animal cruelty, as well as one count each for identity theft, menacing, vehicular eluding, first-degree aggravated motor vehicle theft, driving under the influence, resisting arrest, and obstructing a peace officer.

He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on March 17 at 10 a.m.

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