Aurora officer injured as SUV flees during traffic stop; cop shoots suspect in leg at I-225, Alameda

Suspect ID'd as Jonathan Samuel Steele

AURORA, Colo. - An Aurora police officer was injured when a shoplifting suspect sped off during a traffic stop Friday afternoon, but police say the officer was able to shoot and wound the fleeing driver.

The violent confrontation happened about 12:11 p.m. as officers were responding to a report of a shoplifter at a Best Buy store at 13801 E. Mississippi Ave., police said.

Dispatchers radioed a description of the suspected shoplifter's black sport utility vehicle and patrol officers spotted and stopped the SUV on East Alameda Avenue in the left turn lane leading to southbound Interstate 225, police said. 

One officer contacted the driver and then returned to his patrol car to run a background check on the man's identification.

Meanwhile, a second officer was standing between the open door and the SUV when the driver suddenly sped off, police said. The officer was able to fire one shot, striking the driver in the leg, before the officer fell to the ground and struck his head on the pavement, police said.

"All of a sudden it just sped off," witness Meghan Alivis said of the SUV. "There was like plastic that came flying off the car. And then the light turned green, so I started to drive by and there was the police officer that was just lying on the ground."

Police say they have not been able to confirm whether the officer was struck by the fleeing SUV.

"The officer was knocked to the ground, smacking his head on the concrete," said Aurora Police Department spokeswoman Sgt. Cassidy Carlson.

The SUV continued southbound on I-225 while being pursued by other police vehicles. The SUV driver finally stopped on the I-225 off-ramp to East Iliff Avenue. As officers arrested the suspect, they saw that he had a gunshot wound to his leg.

The officer was transported to the hospital with a head injury. He is in good condition, said police, who did not release the officer's name. The officer is a 10-year veteran.

An Aurora Sentinel photograph showed that the apparently handcuffed suspect was conscious when he was loaded on a stretcher into an ambulance.

The suspect was also taken to the hospital with a non-life-threatening gunshot wound to his leg, police said. He was later transported to the Aurora Municipal Jail.

7NEWS has learned the suspect is 26-year-old Jonathan Samuel Steele. He has prior arrests for assault, aggravated motor vehicle theft, drug possession, theft and violation of protection orders, according to court records. 

Steele has been charged with second-degree assault and vehicular eluding causing injury. He is being held on a $50,000 bond. The investigation is on going and further charges may follow as more is learned, police said Friday night.

The Aurora Police Department's Major Crime Unit has taken over the investigation, which is the protocol for the department's officer-involved shootings, police said. Once the investigation is completed, it will be turned over to the Arapahoe County District Attorney’s Office for review.

Police reopened the northbound and southbound off-ramps from  I-225 to Alameda Avenue just before 4 p.m. The ramps were closed more than three hours while investigators processed the crime scene on Alameda.

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