DENVER (AP) — Prosecutors have cleared of criminal wrongdoing three Denver police officers who opened fire at two men after a high-speed car chase and erroneously believed the passenger was an escaped inmate.
Denver District Attorney Beth McCann has determined that officers William Bohm, Austin Barela, and Susan Mercado were justified in killing 27-year-old Steven Lee Nguyen and injuring 24-year-old Rafael Landeros Jr. in March.
Police were searching for escapee Mauricio Venzor-Gonzalez, who was considered armed and dangerous. The department's fugitive unit had wrongly identified Nguyen as the escapee, leading to a car chase from Aurora into Denver. Landeros was driving the car.
McCann says in a letter to the Denver police chief that Landeros' actions posed a threat to the public and to the officers who were trying to apprehend them.
During a press conference Tuesday, the Denver Police Department released body worn camera footage of the shooting. They also said an Internal Affairs investigation of the incident has not yet concluded.
The video footage shows the driver of the suspect vehicle, in a pursuit with police, fail to negotiate a curve in the 4100 block of Albion Street, forcing the SUV off the road.
At that point, officers drew their weapons and gave the occupants commands to exit with their hands up. They fired upon the vehicle after seeing the occupants appear to be reaching for a weapon in the car.