The 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office will not charge two Adams County sheriff’s deputies for their roles in a March 2021 shooting in unincorporated Adams County.
One of the deputies, James Graham, tried to make a traffic stop of a Mercedes near 70th Avenue and Broadway. A letter from DA Brian Mason to AdCo Sheriff Rick Reigenborn said the vehicle was driving at a high rate of speed and passing cars in the median. Instead, the car continued toward the exit for southbound I-25 when it struck a roadway barrier.
The letter said two people — Dominick Perea and Joseph Wiley — got out of the car and went eastbound across the lanes of the freeway. Graham gave chase, as did a Denver police officer, Steve Hammack. The two men tried to stop vehicles and open the car doors, the letter said.
“He (Graham) believed the two men were armed and that the civilians in the passing vehicles were in danger of being robbed or kidnapped if the men were to enter a vehicle.”
Perea succeeded in getting into a car and laid down on top of a female driver. The letter said Graham caught up with the vehicle but found the door was locked. He broke out the driver’s side window and heard the woman scream for help. The letter said Perea was fighting with the driver to keep the car in motion.
After ignoring several orders to get out of the car, the letter said Graham swung his baton at Perea, then tried to use a Taser, which was “ineffective,” the letter said. Officer Hammack tried to use his Taser, too, without success.
A second deputy, Layne Paintin, helped the other officers to remove Perea from the car. Perea resisted, the letter said. During that struggle, Paintin struck Perea in the head. Authorities later arrested Wiley.
Mason’s letter to the sheriff said the physical force used in this instance was justified.
“Here, Deputy Graham resorted to the use of physical force … only after it became apparent that the nonviolent means were unsuccessful,” Mason’s letter said. “Further, Deputy Graham used force on Mr. Perea as Mr. Perea appeared to be engaged in an effort to carjack a citizen on I-25.”
Mason also found that the use of force was “consistent with the minimization of injury to others” and that Perea posed “an immediate threat to the safety of others,” such that it required the use of force.”
Perea faces six counts, kidnapping, robbery, trespassing to a vehicle with the intent to commit a crime, vehicular eluding, driving under restraint and resisting arrest. His arraignment is set for March 31. Wiley plead guilty to a charge of possession of a defaced weapon, one with the serial number altered or removed.