Home / World News / Arapahoe sheriff’s deputy who fatally shot armed teenager in back justified in use of deadly force

Arapahoe sheriff’s deputy who fatally shot armed teenager in back justified in use of deadly force

A deputy who fatally shot an armed teenager — who was fleeing a crashed, carjacked vehicle — on foot, justifiably used deadly force to protect the public and other officers, according to a review of the officer-involved shooting.

James Daniel Hill, 17, was shot in the back by Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Knudsen about 5:15 a.m. May 31 in Centennial, according to the district attorney’s office review.

Hill and two other males carjacked a 2006 black Nissan Altima about 4:50 a.m. at the Courtney Downs Apartments, 15859 Jamison Drive, the document said. Hill, armed and dressed in a black hoodie, stood in front of the car pointed a gun at the victim and said: “Give us your stuff if you don’t want to get shot.”

The trio robbed the victim of his phone, wallet and car keys, driving off in the carjacked Nissan. They quickly picked up two females who had been with them earlier and were waiting nearby. Meanwhile, the victim ran to his apartment and called 911.

Knudsen, on duty in a marked patrol car and in uniform, responded with his lights and siren. Radio traffic on the carjacking included a description of the stolen vehicle and mentioned that one of the males was armed.

Knudsen, at the intersection of East Dry Creek Road and South Yosemite Street, spotted the Nissan and attempted to angle the carjacked vehicle to head north on Yosemite. When the driver of the Nissan attempted to continue westbound on Dry Creek, Knudsen intentionally struck the rear driver’s side panel of the Nissan with his patrol car. The Nissan spun out and came to a stop. Five occupants, three males and two females, jumped out of the Nissan and ran.

Knudsen, now also on foot and with his gun drawn, chased the suspects. The females split off from the males, and Knudsen pursued the males. One male, holding a handgun as he ran, split from the other two. Knudsen chased the male with the gun.

During the chase, Knudsen had been yelling instructions for the suspects fleeing to stop, put their hands up and get down on the ground, the review said. He had also yelled that he knew they were armed and that he “would shoot.”

As Knudsen chased the armed, lone suspect through the Saddle Ridge Apartment Complex, 8717 East Dry Creek Road, he was concerned about a possible encounter between the fleeing suspect and residents. He was also concerned about the safety of another deputy joining the foot chase and not knowing about the suspect’s weapon, the review said.

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