Aurora police said one of their own officers slipped on ice and accidentally fired his weapon on Thursday night, critically wounding a car theft suspect he had been chasing.
The officer was on icy ground, when he stumbled and lost his footing, causing him to accidentally fire the weapon he had in his hand, Aurora police said. He was using the weapon-mounted flashlight at the time, police said.
The Aurora police officer was part of the Metro Auto Theft Task Force investigating a prolific auto theft ring out of Commerce City. The two Aurora officers and a Colorado State Trooper were following a stolen white Honda Thursday night when the Honda pulled into UPS lot in Denver, abandoned the vehicle, and got into a black Acura that sped away, police said.
The officers followed the Acura for several blocks when, near Stapleton Drive and Ivy Street, the vehicle tried to perform an evasive maneuver and got high centered on snowbank and was pinned in by an Aurora police officer and the trooper, Aurora police Chief Nick Metz said during a Friday afternoon news conference.
The Aurora officer drew his gun and ordered the suspect to get out of the vehicle.
The suspect was out of the car when the officer "appeared to have lost his footing and doing so, fired one shot," which hit the suspect, Metz said.
The officer immediately radioed in that there had been an unintentional shooting and requested medical aid for the driver. The trooper provided medical aid until medics arrived. Denver police officers responded to the scene, along with Aurora police, as part of the joint Officer Involved Shooting protocol.
The suspect is currently in critical but stable condition. Police said he had been shot in the "upper left quadrant."
He was identified as 20-year-old Christopher Padilla. He has two outstanding warrants out of Arvada for motor vehicle theft and another warrant out of Jefferson County for similar crimes.
The officer involved has been placed on administrative leave as is standard protocol. He has not been identified but Metz said the officer is a 16-year veteran of the Aurora Police Department and is a recognized expert in auto theft crimes. He has no prior involvement in shootings, Metz said.
Denver police are investigating the shooting since it occurred in their jurisdiction.
Denver7 has checked the numbers and there have been 11 officer-involved shootings since Halloween along the Front Rage, including this one.
Our photog zoomed in on this car & it appears there is a bullet hole in the window. pic.twitter.com/7RcjJ70ygG
— Liz Gelardi (@LizGelardi) December 18, 2015
The following is a map of where the shooting was reported at around 8 p.m.: