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Trial begins Tuesday for former Greenwood Village PD officer accused of killing Aurora teen while drunk

peyton Blitstein.jpg
Posted at 3:47 PM, Feb 05, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-05 17:49:23-05

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — A trial will begin Tuesday for a former Greenwood Village Police Department officer accused of fatally shooting a 17-year-old during an argument in November 2021.

Adam Holen, now 38, is accused of shooting and killing 17-year-old Peyton Blitstein on the evening of Nov. 24, 2021. He has been charged with second-degree murder, felony menacing and prohibited use of a weapon.

According to an arrest affidavit, Holen had a blood alcohol level of .193 the night of the shooting. According to Medical News Today, a person with a BAC of .20 is "significantly impaired," cannot drive and may vomit, feel dazed or have balance and coordination issues.

Holen had resigned from the Greenwood Village Police Department on Nov. 1, 2021, a few weeks before the shooting.

His jury trial begins on Tuesday at 8:30 a.m.

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Affidavit: Former officer was drunk at time of deadly shooting

Óscar Contreras
5:45 PM, Dec 23, 2021

Investigators with the Aurora Police Department used body-worn camera video of its officers, Ring doorbell camera video and witness interviews to piece together how a confrontation between Holen and Blistein turned into a deadly shooting along a neighborhood street.

Officers were first called to the 4900 block of S. Addison Way around 10:30 p.m. on Nov. 24, 2021.

When police arrived at the scene, they found Blistein on the ground in the street. A woman was performing CPR on the teen and Holen was standing nearby. Police took over CPR on Blistein. They saw that he was shot at least four times in the chest and once in his arm, an arrest affidavit for Holen reads.

The teen was transported to a hospital in an ambulance and was pronounced deceased at 11:11 p.m. that night.

At the scene, Holen told officers he "used to be a former officer" and showed police his firearm, which was taken in as evidence, according to the arrest affidavit.

Because he had been shot in the hip, a second ambulance was called. Before it arrived, police asked for a statement from him. The officer "immediately noticed Adam (Holen) was emotionally distraught and his speech was very fast-paced," the affidavit reads.

In that statement, Holen said the driver of a red Toyota Scion had been racing around his neighborhood during the day and night. He confronted the driver and passengers and told them that children lived along the street and to slow down.

Holen told police that out of nowhere, “three dudes got out of the Toyota Scion, and surrounded him,” according to the affidavit, at which point he said he feared for his life, pulled his handgun and held it, pointed down. He said one of the teens — later identified as Blitstein — pulled a firearm and shot him, so Holen returned fire with his Smith and Wesson Shield 9mm pistol, according to the arrest affidavit. He told police he likely emptied the magazine. The firearm held 11 rounds.

Holen said the other four people in the red car went into a nearby house.

At this point, the ambulance arrived and Holen was transported to a hospital. Police went to the hospital to continue the interview, but Holen refused to speak any more.

At the scene, police found one live bullet and eight fired bullet casings. Seven of the bullet casings matched Holen's firearm and one casing matched Blitstein's firearm, according to the affidavit. Police found a 31-round Glock extended magazine near Blitstein.

The gun malfunctioned, according to the affidavit, and was considered a ghost gun, as it was made of different parts and did not have a serial number.

A woman who lived nearby — who had initially performed CPR on Blitstein — showed her Ring doorbell video to police and said the involved red Toyota belonged to her daughter. She told police she heard a door slam, multiple gunshots and then her daughter, along with two other teens, ran into the home.

The four other teens in the car, as well as the woman, agreed to be interviewed in this case. The teens are identified as Person 1, Person 2, Person 3 and Person 4 in the below narrative.

During the woman's interview, she said she urged the teenagers inside after the gunfire and then went out to check on Blitstein's pulse, but didn't feel one. She said that Holen started to also help with CPR.

She said her daughter, Person 1, later told her that Holen had been following her and made comments like, "I love you, sweetie" and "you're speeding through here." The woman said the car has loud "straight pipes" so she would have heard her daughter when she got home that evening, according to the affidavit.

Police then interviewed Person 1, who said she picked up the four others — Person 2, 3 and 4, plus Blitstein — after work, and then was going to go home to change and get gas money. She said as soon as she got to her home, a man pulled up behind her in a truck. As she was opening her home's front door, Person 1 said a man — later identified as Holen — said "Love you, sweetheart" from his car, she told police. She asked who he was, which he didn't answer but said that she had been speeding through his neighborhood. She told him she had been driving 20 mph. The neighborhood's speed limit is 25 mph, according to the affidavit.

Person 1 said Holen pulled a gun and cocked it — though she only heard the sound — and believed he had pointed it at one of her friends.

She remembered that when Holen shot at Blitstein, the teen was "curled up in a ball with gunshots still hitting him," according to the affidavit. She wasn't sure who fired first.

Person 1 told police that Blitstein had a firearm "for protection because he was going to live off of Colfax," the document reads.

Police interviewed the three other teens as well.

In Person 2's interview, she told police that Holen had pulled up next to them in front of Person 1's house, and told the teens "they were being loud and speeding," according to the affidavit. She told police they were not speeding or blasting loud music, but acknowledged that the car had a very loud muffler.

She said she remembered hearing one gunshot, turning around and seeing Holen shooting at Blitstein. She said she didn't see who fired the first shot.

Person 3 told police in his interview that Blitstein had purchased the gun because he didn't feel safe. He said that on the night of the shooting, the music in the car was loud, so he understood that Holen would be upset over that noise, but not over the driving, according to the affidavit.

He said Holen told them that they were speeding, and Person 3 told his friends, "This guy is bugging," according to the document. Shortly after this, Person 3 said he saw Holen had pulled a gun. He said Holen, who was in his truck's driver's seat, "lifted his gun up to eye level and pointed it directly at him" when he was outside of the red car. The sight of the gun "made his heart race," he told police. Person 3 said Holen then lowered the gun, not saying anything.

Person 3 told his friends what had happened. Blitstein got out of the red car, and Holen got out of his truck, and the two started arguing.

"(Person 3) said Adam (Holen) walked around the rear of his truck and he saw Adam with a gun," the affidavit reads. "(Person 3) said the gun was in Adam's right hand and it was raised up. (Person 3) said Adam put both hands on the gun in a shooting position as he advanced on them. (Person 3) said this was when he then turned his back and started walking towards the house. (Person 3) said he made it to the sidewalk when he then heard the gunshots and he thought Adam shot first."

He told police that Holen seemed to want to help with life-saving efforts on Blitstein afterward.

Person 4 spoke with police as well, and remembered hearing Person 3 tell Blitstein that Holen was armed. He recalled seeing Holen get out of his truck and grab a firearm. Person 4 told police he believed he heard Holen use a slur just before the shootout. He stayed in the car during the shooting and afterward, ran into the home where the other teens had gone.

Lastly, police interviewed Holen at Aurora Police Headquarters on Nov. 26, 2021 just before 1 p.m.

Holen said he had been at his mother's house that evening. He told police he drank two Coors Banquet beers while watching a Colorado Avalanche game, which concluded around 10:15 p.m. He then drove away from his mother's house to go home. Around Gun Club Road and Quincy Avenue, he said a car nearly crashed into him and cut him off, which upset him. He thought it was going about 50 mph, and began following the car. He told police he recognized the car from other speeding incidents, according to the affidavit, and that it was an ongoing problem.

The car stopped in front of a home and two people — Person 1 and Person 3 — got out of the car and went up to the house. Holen told police he did say, "Love you sweetie" as the duo were standing on the home's porch. He said he pulled up closer to the red car and yelled at them to slow down. He told police some of the teens walked toward the back of the red car, but did not come up to his truck. He said he thought they were "stupid kids being disrespectful" and decided he was not going to get anywhere talking to them, so he aimed to talk to Person 1's mother, who was standing in the home's doorway, according to the affidavit.

He recalled not feeling threatened at that time, so he did not get his gun out.

As he walked around the back of his truck, he noticed that Blitstein was holding a gun at the "low ready" position, he told police. He said once he saw that, he drew his own firearm. He said he "immediately feared for his life and reverted to his training," according to the affidavit.

He told police he did not know why he didn't fire first, but he heard a gunshot and muzzle flash, so he returned fire. He said he either emptied his magazine or came close to it because that is what he had been taught as an officer. He realized the teen was seriously wounded, so he said he got into his truck and drove a few houses away to get his trauma kit, though he couldn't find it, so he sprinted back to the scene, according to the affidavit. He said the 17-year-old was not breathing and did not have a pulse when he returned.

When police arrived, he said he put his hands up, told them he was the shooter and an ex-cop, and that the pistol was on his waist, according to the affidavit. When asked by an officer, he denied ever using a slur.

During the interview, he described his extensive training at the Greenwood Village Police Department. He said he did not recall if he used any verbal de-escalation techniques that night. He added that he had not made any reports to police about speeding in the neighborhood, but recalled an instance where an officer friend of his had yelled at a Toyota Scion that was speeding around the neighborhood.

Holen said in the interview that he was acting in self-defense when he shot at Blitstein.

On Nov. 30, 2021, investigators separately met with Blitstein's father and mother, as well as his grandfather for interviews, though limited information was available in the affidavit.

As part of the investigation, police reviewed two Ring videos from homes in the area. After the truck pulled up next to the red vehicle, Holen's voice was heard in one recording: "Goodnight, kiss her goodnight, love you. Have a goodnight," the affidavit reads.

Much of the two videos captures portions of conversations, but it was difficult for officers to determine who was speaking.

In one conversation, Person 1 was heard saying, "I'm calling the cops" and Holen responded, "I didn't want you speeding through my neighborhood, that's all." Person 1 was heard saying, "Then you could have asked me instead of being a creepo and pulling up to my house like that," according to the affidavit.

In one of the videos, Holen was heard saying "F*** these kids, man," grabbed something on the right side of his hip and raised a gun, the affidavit reads. In the video, he was seen pointing the gun toward Blitstein and Person 3.

"Adam (Holen) begins walking towards (Person 3) and Peyton (Blitstein) as Peyton raises his right arm towards Adam and fires one shot," the document reads.

It reiterated that police believe Blitstein fired the first shot at 10:28 p.m. In response, Holen fired three quick shots. The teen was seen falling over and Holen continued to fire at him, according to the affidavit. Based on the video evidence, police said Holen fired a total of nine shots at the teen.

The entire shooting lasted about five seconds, the affidavit reads.

Holen was heard in a recording yelling, "Are you kidding me? He shot me," it continues. Person 1's mother began tending to Blitstein.

Holen said he wanted to move his car, so he drove a few houses down and then returned to the scene, where he was heard on a Ring video saying, "He's still breathing, keep going," "He has a pulse," and "Keep breathing buddy, come on," according to the affidavit. About a minute later, he was heard on the video saying that the teen was no longer breathing. Around that time, Person 3 walked out of the house and told Holen to go home and stop acting like he cared.

As part of the investigation, officers also searched both vehicles.

Inside the GMC pickup truck, they found about 20 9mm bullets of various brands. They also found a black magazine with 13 9mm bullets, according to the affidavit.

The Toyota Scion had a red backpack that belonged to Blitstein. A black handgun magazine was inside, as well as a green laser sight, a silver digital scale, a knife and a box of bullets. A small container of marijuana and a cell phone were also found, according to the affidavit. The passenger door of the car had a bullet hole.

In an autopsy, Arapahoe County Coroner Dr. Casey Bitting ruled that Blitstein's cause of death was homicide and the manner of death was multiple gunshot wounds to his torso.

On Dec. 8, 2021, Holen signed a medical release form at the Aurora Police Department, and about a week later, investigators received his medical records following the shooting.

Former officer charged in Aurora teen’s death was drunk at the time of the shooting, affidavit states

According to those records, as outlined in the affidavit, Holen's blood serum level was tested and resulted in a BAC of .193 at 11:29 p.m. A doctor's note indicated he was walking normally and not slurring his speech at 2:23 a.m. the following morning. He was discharged from the hospital at 3 a.m.

"Based on the facts of the case, Your Affiant believes Adam (Holen) is the primary aggressor," the arrest affidavit concludes. "Adam was intoxicated. Adams chose to initiate the contact with the teens by stopping in the street and talking with them. As things were getting more heated, Adam chose to stay instead of driving away. Adams chose to get out of his truck and walk towards the teens. Adam chose to confront Peyton (Blitstein) and (Person 3) with his handgun pointed at them. Your Affiant believes Adam knowingly caused the death of Blitstein by use of a firearm. Adam pointed his handgun at (Person 3) before he got out of his truck. Adam was legally intoxicated while in possession of a firearm."

addison way teen kil.jpg

Local News

Murder warrant submitted to DA's Office for review in deadly Aurora shooting by ex-officer

Blair Miller
1:35 PM, Dec 20, 2021

In the summer of 2022, Blitstein's father, Todd Blitstein, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Holen. The two claims for relief in the suit involve wrongful death and a survival action.

He is seeking compensation for the alleged damages as well as court and attorneys fees, as well as a jury trial for the lawsuit.

Father of Aurora teenager shot and killed by former officer files wrongful death lawsuit

The father claims he has suffered damages including medical, funeral and burial expenses, as well as emotional damages and stress from his son’s death.

“Plaintiff’s damages are a foreseeable consequence of Defendant’s unreasonable failure to use even the slightest degree of care under the circumstances,” the lawsuit claims.

Holen's trial begins Tuesday and is expected to finish by Feb. 15.

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