Denver District Attorney says officers justified in shooting, killing suspect during chase, shootout

Chase ended at 39th and Osage

DENVER - Five Denver police officers were justified in shooting and killing a suspect during a January police chase,  the  Denver District Attorney's Office said.

District Attorney Mitch Morrissey said Thursday that no criminal charges will be filed against Denver police officers John MacDonald, Robert Motyka, Pete Derrick, Jeff Motz and Karl Roller.

The officers were involved in a high-speed chase on Jan. 16 that ended in the shooting death of John Montoya, 38, and wounded Michael Valdez, 35.

The chase and shooting ended a series of events that started in Thornton with the armed carjacking of a red Dodge pickup truck.

Morrissey’s report said five suspects, one woman and four men, fled in the stolen truck. The suspects were identified as John Montoya, Chuck Montoya, Jude Montoya, Michael Valdez and Alyssa Moralez.

A high-speed police chase ensued, during which one of the suspects fired at the officers with a semi-automatic handgun while sitting in the bed of the truck. The other suspects riding in the cab of the truck were firing at police as well, according to the DA's report.

Police in pursuit reported that the driver attempted to run over an officer while the person in the flatbed continued firing. Witnesses also told 7NEWS about seeing someone throwing things at the police cars from the back of the pickup.

According to the DA's investigation, Motyka saw the truck driving “like a bat out of hell” with a blown right front tire. Motyka pursued and was allegedly shot in the shoulder.

After he was shot, Motyka continued following the red truck until it hit a tree at 39th Avenue and Osage Street at about 3:30 p.m. , three hours after the pursuit began.

When officers arrived at the scene they reported that the suspects emerged from the vehicle. One suspect, Jude Montoya, ran from the vehicle but was arrested about one block from the scene of the crash.

Michael Valdez and Alyssa Moralez were lying on the ground, apparently injured, while the others, John and Chuck Montoya, began yelling and threatening police with handguns, according to the police report.

John Montoya was shot three times and died at the scene, while Chuck Montoya was taken into custody with the help of a police dog. Valdez and Moralez were also arrested.

Chuck Montoya and John Montoya were members of the North Side Mafia gang and were wanted for arrest, according to Morrissey’s report.

7NEWS asked Denver Police Commander Paul Pazen what an officer must determine before they're allowed to fire their weapon during a police chase.

"The imminent threat to an officer or to a third party, and that officer has to be able to articulate that threat," said Pazen. "The preliminary view definitely looks like the officers acted well within policy and procedure, but that's something that we'll have lots and lots of review."

Several schools were locked down and nearby residents were instructed to stay indoors during the incident.

Family and friends of the suspect killed started a memorial at the tree where the truck crashed.

You can read the DA's full report at  http://www.denverda.org/News_Release/Officer-involved_shooting_investigations.htm

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