Denver Police Officer Fatally Shoots Man Mistaking Marker for Knife

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
August 16, 2023US News
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Denver Police Officer Fatally Shoots Man Mistaking Marker for Knife
Police tape in a stock photo. (Carl Ballou/Shutterstock)

A Denver police officer fatally shot a man who ran towards her with what she thought was a knife. It turned out to be a black marker, investigators have said.

Body-worn camera video shows the suspect, Brandon Cole, 36, raising the marker to chest level as he closed in on the officer just before she fired two shots.

“This is a tremendous tragedy,” Chief Ron Thomas said during a news conference Monday. The Denver District Attorney’s Office will review the legality of the shooting.

The shooting happened on Aug. 5 just before 8 p.m. in the 2300 block of West Cedar Avenue, after police received a call about alleged domestic violence involving Mr. Cole, his wife, and his teenage son, The Denver Post reported.

Police Commander Matt Clark said Monday that the caller reported that the woman may have been pushed out of her wheelchair and that Mr. Cole was “going after” his son.

When officers arrived, the woman was sitting on the street next to a wheelchair, a boy standing beside her, while Mr. Cole was standing next to his vehicle, half leaning inside its open door. Another police car had just halted on the other side of Mr. Cole’s car.

As the female officer exited her vehicle, the woman told her: “Don’t, don’t pull your gun out on my husband, please,” the body camera recording showed.

The officer asked the woman if she needed emergency assistance. “I just need an ambulance,” the woman said, sitting down as Mr. Cole closed his car door and walked away from the car, reaching for his back pocket.

Both officers told him to stand still.

Mr. Cole then started shouting and was shot with a stun gun when he walked toward the female officer. One of the officers radioed that he was armed with a knife. Investigators said they believe only one probe from the taser struck Mr. Cole, failing to render him immobile.

Mr. Cole then ran in front of a woman and a young child as he charged toward the officer, who shot him twice.

“You can see in the video that when she finally deploys her duty weapon, the person is so close to her that the view of the young child and other person are not even clear to her,” Chief Thomas said.

“Certainly that was a consideration, but there was not much time to act before she was overrun by that individual,” he said, adding that officers are trained to be aware of both their target and what is beyond the target whenever they fire their guns.

The name of the officer who shot Mr. Cole has not been released but she’s been with the police department since 2019 and has not been involved in any other shootings.

An investigation to determine whether the officer acted legally when she killed Mr. Cole is underway.

Chief Thomas said Monday that investigators are still investigating whether a domestic violence incident was underway before officers arrived. Mr. Cole’s wife has declined to give a statement to police. It is unclear whether she was pushed from her wheelchair.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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