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Was it justified? Brighton police pursuit ends in 2 dead

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Posted at 6:59 PM, Oct 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-28 18:30:15-04

BRIGHTON, Colo. — Questions are being asked about the justification of a police pursuit in Brighton Tuesday that ended in the death of two bystanders.

A woman in vehicle and a male pedestrian were killed after two separate crashes caused by the suspect, identified as 25-year-old Nicholas Villarini, who was running from police in a stolen car, according to the Brighton Police Department.

Flowers have been placed at the intersection of Bridge and Mt Bierstadt streets a day after the deadly police pursuit.

"I saw the smashed up vehicles out there and knew something bad must have happened," said John Norris.

Norris lives nearby and saw the aftermath of the destruction.

"You never want to come home to anything horrific like that," said Norris.

The department said officers tried to pull Villarina over after responding to suspicious vehicle report Tuesday morning. But instead of stopping, police said Villarina rammed one of the officer’s cars and took off.

Officers followed the suspect to Bridge and Mt. Bierstadt streets, where they said Villarini ran a stop sign and struck another car. A woman, identified Thursday as 21-year-old Dulce Castro Perez of Hudson, in the passenger seat of that vehicle was ejected, transported to the hospital and later died.

The department said the stolen car continued on Mt. Bierstadt Street, lost control and struck a male pedestrian, who was also identified Thursday as 25-year-old Gustavo Mosqueda Ortega of Montrose. He was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced deceased.

Police said from start to finish, the chase all played out in two minutes. Denver7 asked Brighton PD if officers should have pursued, but they declined an interview.

James Allbee has been an officer for multiple departments in Colorado, working in the field and writing policies for new recruits. He said based on Brighton’s current pursuit policy, and the actions of Villarina hitting the officers car, they did what they were supposed to do.

"Anytime there’s someone taking an active stance against law-enforcement and trying to ram them to cause serious bodily injury and take them out, they are an extreme risk to the community. Their activities need to be stopped," said Allbee.

The crash is being investigated by Colorado State Patrol and North Metro Accident Investigation team.