Police commander defends officers that shot criminal who ignored commands, reached for gun

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DENVER, CO – Denver police officials are standing by the actions taken by officers regarding a fatal officer-involved shooting of an armed suspect earlier in June, despite some criticism within the community. 

On June 13th, Denver Police officers responded to the area of East Colfax Avenue and Yosemite Street after reports of a suspect, identified as 30-year-old Duane Manzanares, shooting a vehicle a few blocks away. 

Reportedly, the vehicle that Manzanares had shot minutes before police arrived was his own. 

When officers encountered Manzanares, he was reportedly drinking out of a whiskey bottle and had a weapon visible along his waistband. 

Denver Police Commander Matt Clark noted the following about the police interaction: 

“The officers told the subject to put his hands on his head, and they also directed him not to reach for the handgun that was visible in his waistband.”

However, according to Commander Clark, Manzanares did the exact opposite of what officers ordered: 

“The subject discarded the empty bottle of Fireball whiskey onto the ground before dropping his right hand towards his waistband area near the firearm and also moving his left hand behind his back out of the view from officers.”

A total of 11 shots were fired by officers, fatally striking the suspect. Knowing that police shootings often draw criticism, Commander Clark added the following: 

“Trying to hit him in the leg, trying to shoot a hand or something like that is just not feasible when you have a moving target under stress. The officers are trained to shoot at the center.”

 

Witness video was also captured during the incident, one of which was caught by 16-year-old Ava Roy who was with her father as they were driving by and the suspect was shot. 

Ava remarked on how the shots seemed to come from “out of nowhere”:

“It was horrifying and it was crazy. Out of nowhere he gets shot. He’s just standing there. And I was, like, mind-blown.”

According to Manzanares’s mother, Mary Ann Medina, Manzanares actually lived in Pueblo but was in Denver on June 13th as his eight-year-old son was diagnosed with leukemia the day prior

Medina said she and her son Manzanares were at the Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora, less than three miles from where the officer-involved shooting occurred, and Manzanares left to go get something from the store.

It was after leaving the hospital where the events leading up to the fatal shooting occurred.

All three of the officers involved in the incident have been placed on “modified duty assignment” per standard procedure as the district attorney’s office investigates the shooting. 

Police have not determined why Manzanares was shooting at his vehicle, which resulted in the police response.

This is an ongoing investigation. 

Please follow Law Enforcement Today as we continue to gather further insight into this developing case. 

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Back in May, Law Enforcement Today’s Pat Droney had some harsh criticism to deliver regarding Denver’s efforts to “reimagine” policing. 

Here’s that previous editorial. 

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The following contains editorial content written by a retired Chief of Police and current staff writer for Law Enforcement Today.

DENVER, CO- You’re driving down the interstate and you see a car coming up behind you, clearly speeding. The car is weaving in and out of traffic and you see another car slam on the brakes and swerve as the car cuts that driver off.

The car drives by you and as he fades out of sight, you see him weaving across lanes of traffic, passing cars in the breakdown lane, nearly causing numerous accidents.

You get the plate number and call 911. The operator says, “Thanks, we’ll make a note of it and let our traffic enforcement monitors know.”

That’s it you think? This guy could literally kill somebody!

The above scenario, while it seems far-fetched is actually something that could become a reality. In fact, in a couple of jurisdictions, like Berkeley, California and Cambridge, Massachusetts, it already is. It may be soon coming to Denver, Colorado.

Madness you say? Absolutely. Yet this is what is going on in a world gone crazy since a man under the influence of fentanyl and methamphetamine, with an enlarged heart and high blood pressure died while in police custody in Minneapolis last May.

The death of George Floyd has ripped the mask off the social justice warrior nutcases who populate the Democratic party.

For example, in the case of Denver, the largest city in Colorado a “task force” has been formed to “reimagine” policing. Reimagine is code word for emasculate, trust us. This is nothing short of fancy lingo to mask woke, social justice bullcrap disguised as “reform.”

One of the recommendations to “reimagine” policing in Denver is to implement massive changes in traffic stops.

This group of leftist bureaucrats came up with a “mere” 112 recommendations that the Mile High City can implement to “improve” public safety. One factor that seems to be a common denominator in those recommendations is reducing interactions between police officers and the public. Because that is working out so well in cities such as New York and Chicago.

Since most interactions between police and citizens occur during traffic stops, this group of “geniuses” have developed five ways on how they can be conducted.

Among their brilliant ideas:

  • Decriminalize traffic offenses often used for pretextual stops;
  • Prohibit Denver police from conducting searches in relation to petty offenses or traffic violations;
  • Remove police officers from routine traffic stops and crash reporting and explore non-police alternatives that incentivize behavior change to eliminate traffic fatalities;
  • Eliminate the need for traffic enforcement by auditing and investing [i.e., spend more tax money] in the built environment to promote safe travel behavior;
  • Use civilians to enforce traffic laws.

For those not well-versed on what a “pretextual” traffic stop is, this involves an officer stopping a vehicle for a traffic violation whether minor or not in order to allow the officer to investigate separate, unrelated suspected criminal offenses.

To be clear, officers must have probable cause to make such a stop. They must be able to articulate a specific reason for making the stop. They cannot merely stop a car because they feel like it.

First of all, pretextual stops are used by officers as a basis to keep people safe. There are countless cases where vehicles were stopped for a minor traffic violation which eventually led to solving serious criminal cases. How so?

Two of the most notorious criminals in American history—Timothy McVeigh (Oklahoma City Bomber) and Ted Bundy (serial killer of numerous young college coeds)—were captured as a result of “minor” traffic violations.

A number of other serious criminals have likewise been captured as a result of so-called “pretextual” traffic stops.

Secondly according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics under the Department of Justice, it is estimated that in 2019 alone, 1.024 million drivers were arrested for operating under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. By getting those intoxicated or impaired drivers off the roads, it is unknown how many countless lives were saved.

Such stops often prevent crimes before they occur, allowing police to intercept criminals and arrest them for possession of illegal firearms, outstanding felony warrants, DUI, and so on prior to them having the ability to hurt someone.

There is a reason they call it “crime prevention.” Otherwise, police will just be responding to calls after the fact, picking up the broken pieces.

Look at what has happened to our country in the past 12-plus months. The neo-Marxist left wants to defund the police, ban traffic stops, put revolving doors in our prisons, elect gutless far-left district attorneys that refuse to prosecute crime and on top of it all, take guns away from people after you have stripped away their protection by emasculating the police.

Add to that wide-open borders where God knows what kinds of criminals are entering the country, and the ones who will pay are the lower and middle class.

Banning police officers from enforcing traffic laws will lead to anarchy and chaos, which is exactly what the left wants. The end game? Who knows? A nationalized police force, such as 1930s and 40s Germany? Perhaps.

Whatever it is, the American people are the ones who are going to pay. We have gone from one of the safest countries in the world to one of the least safe countries.

You can thank a Democrat.

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