Shooting video released; DA will not charge cops

Posted at 10:38 AM, Sep 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-15 12:38:02-04

Newly released details and video reveal the moment Denver police officers decided they had to pull the trigger and shoot a man who was holding a knife to his own neck. Those officers will not be charged with any wrongdoing in the incident, Denver's District Attorney decided Monday.

The video comes from surveillance cameras from an office and laundry facility in the middle Capital City Mobile Home Park in Denver where the July 12 shooting occurred.The video recovered from one of those cameras on the building at 4501 W. Kentucky Avenue was reviewed by the DA in his consideration of the case. 

Prior to the incident, the DA's report finds Paul Castaway had broken into his mother's home. She was babysitting her grandchildren and believed he was drunk, high or both.

Castaway was armed with a knife, "poked" his mother in the neck and broke some items before running away when another family member arrived. His mother called 911 and explained he was suicidal and armed with a knife.

Castaway was later spotted by his mother, as police officers escorted her back to her home. The police could see he had a knife with a wooden handle and chased him.

The street was crowded with several children playing and a young girl taking out the trash. As Castaway approaches them, with the officers behind him, the kids scatter and run away.

Video shows Castaway running and crouching behind a wooden fence, raising the knife to his own neck and then standing to walk toward the officers. As he advances the officers back up slowly, until Castaway is only a few feet away.

"In this case, Castaway’s decision to turn, confront the officers and deliberately advance toward Officer (Michael) Truadt, knife in hand, rather than complying with his orders, compelled Officer Traudt to shoot," DA Mitch Morrissey wrote in the letter explaining his decision. 

Castaway falls to the ground, with the knife still in his left hand. Officer Jerry Lara grabs Castaway's left arm to control it and remove the knife.

In July, some members of Castaway's family protested the police officers' actions. Although the surveillance video hadn't been released to the public at the time, they said the manager of the mobile home park had showed it to them.

Those family members argued that Castaway never threatened officers and did not believe the shooting was justified.

However, Morrissey decided that Officer Traudt was legally justified in firing the fatal shot.

"In this investigation we are, once again, presented with a situation in which police officers are called to deal with someone who is violent, apparently suicidal, and who has an astounding combination of alcohol and controlled substances in his system," Morrissey wrote. "As is all too often the case, the actions and decisions of the subject place an officer who is attempting to take the subject into custody or 'talk him down' in an untenable situation: a situation where the officer will, in many instances, be driven by the subject’s actions to use some degree of physical force or deadly physical force." 

Monday evening, Castaway's mother Lilian Castaway, who also goes by Lynne Eagle Feather, told 7NEWS she disagreed with the decision. 

"You need to investigate these policemen that are killing our children," she said. "My son needed help, he didn't need to be killed by you people."

Castaway said she plans to sue to the police to hold them responsible and make sure they have the proper training when dealing with mental illness.

"Every time I've  called the police, I've told them that he has a mental health problem and that he's schizophrenic. Every single time," said Lilian Castaway. "And every time he's gotten arrested with no problem like this."