The use of force when deputies fatally shot Allen Fanning, an 18-year-old who fled the scene of a reported domestic violence incident Nov. 15, was legally justified, the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office has determined.
Arapahoe County sheriff's deputies fired numerous rounds at Fanning, who aimed a gun at them, according to a June 11 report released by the DA's office. Fanning likely did not fire any shots, it added.
“I conclude Arapahoe County Deputies Robert Knudson, Christopher Donovan and Robert Bratsch were legally justified in their use of force to defend themselves and other officers from the threat posed by Mr. Fanning,” Vicki Klingensmith, chief deputy district attorney, wrote in the report.
According to the report:
At about 9 a.m., a manager at the Big O Tires at East Arapahoe Road and South Potomac Street in Centennial called 9-1-1 and said a man, who looked angry, was chasing a woman around a truck in the parking lot.
A deputy arrived on scene and spoke to the man, who said another male, later identified as Fanning, pointed a gun at him.
The woman and the first man were married but separated, the deputy was informed. The husband, who was 43 at the time, learned that his wife checked into a hotel with another male, and the husband went there and allegedly flattened her tire. He was arrested on suspicion of criminal mischief, according to a news release by the sheriff's office on Nov. 20.
The husband approached them at the tire shop, where the wife told Fanning to run. Fanning grabbed a handgun from the back of the wife's white SUV and pointed it at the husband, according to the husband's account. Fanning then ran into the store. The wife said Fanning did not own a gun and did not point it at anyone.
Donovan then arrived on scene and told Fanning to show him his hands, and Fanning pulled out of the parking lot in the wife's white SUV and headed west on Arapahoe Road.
Two deputies in separate cars — Donovan and Sgt. Cohn, whose first name is not in the report — followed Fanning, whose speed averaged between 50 and 68 mph. Knudson joined the pursuit in another vehicle at South Peoria Street, eventually speeding up to pass Fanning. Knudson slowed down, forcing Fanning to run into him, and Donovan and Cohn stopped behind Fanning to box him in among the three vehicles. Bratsch pulled up in another vehicle next to Fanning.
The four deputies exited their cars with weapons drawn, and Knudson approached the driver's side of the white SUV, yelling at Fanning to put his hands up. Fanning did not comply, according to the report.
Donovan tried to break a driver's side window with the butt of his gun, but it didn't break. Knudson observed Fanning raise his right arm, holding a semi-automatic handgun, the report says. Fanning aimed it at deputies, according to the deputies' account, and Knudson fired his gun into the front windshield. He moved back to his vehicle to reload, continuing to hear gunfire, and shot more rounds into the driver's area of the SUV.
Donovan also fired three or four shots, and Bratsch fired several, thinking that Fanning might have fired before deputies did.
They called for paramedics, saw Fanning moving slightly and performed measures to attempt to prevent him from dying. A loaded handgun was found on the floor near Fanning's feet.
The deputies' body cameras corroborate their account of the incident, the report said.
Twenty-two live 9 mm rounds were also collected from the street on the driver's side of the suspect vehicle, according to the report. Fanning sustained 10 gunshot wounds. His toxicology results tested positive for methamphetamine and amphetamine.
“Based on the evidence, it appears Mr. Fanning did not fire any rounds,” the report said.
Under Colorado law, law enforcement officers are justified in using deadly force when they reasonably believe it necessary to defend themselves or someone else from the use or imminent use of deadly force, the report said.
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