When a peace officer shoots and wounds or kills a person in Denver, Colorado, a very specific protocol is followed to investigate and review the case. Officer-involved shootings are not just another case. Confrontations between the police and citizens where physical force or deadly physical force is used are among the most important events with which we deal. They deserve special attention and handling at all levels. They have potential criminal, administrative, and civil consequences. They can also have a significant impact on the relationship between law enforcement officers and the community they serve. It is important that a very specific and formal protocol be followed.
(For the complete officer-involved shooting protocol click here: PROTOCOL )
If criminal charges are not filed, a decision letter describing the shooting is sent to the Chief Executive Officer of the involved agency by the District Attorney, with copies to the involved officer(s), the Mayor, City Council members, other appropriate persons, and the media. In many cases this decision letter may be completed within a few weeks of the shooting.
The letter summarizes the legal review of the shooting and is independent of the administrative investigation and review. The Executive Director of Denver’s Department of Public Safety, at the conclusion of the administrative review of the shooting, also writes a comprehensive letter that can include additional facts, if any, developed during the administrative investigation.
After the Executive Director has completed the administrative review and outlined the conclusion in a decision letter, or within 60 days of our letter, the Denver District Attorney may make the DA's copy of the case file open for in-person review in the District Attorney's office by any interested person.
The file cannot be made available for review if criminal charges are filed or if the case was presented to the Grand Jury.
If criminal charges are filed the case file then becomes a criminal justice record and the release of information is regulated by the Criminal Justice Records Act.
If the investigation of an officer-involved shooting is taken into the Grand Jury, the investigative file is not available for public review due to Grand Jury secrecy.
Additional background -
Click here to watch a 30-minute episode of Dialogue: Denver DA featuring a discussion of what goes into investigating an officer-involved shooting: Officer-involved shooting Video
In June 2008, the results of an in-depth independent review of Denver’s policies and procedures as they relate to officer-involved shootings were released. The review was conducted by the Police Assessment Resource Center and is posted here in its entirety: 20080714_084831_DeadlyForce.PDF
In 1996, a special independent commission was convened to review the Denver protocol for investigating officer-involved shootings. The Erickson Commission issued its report the following year, and that report is available here: Erickson Report.PDF
- 07-11-04 1234 W. 10th Avenue - Grand Jury report issued
- 07-05-04 800 Block S. Wolff
- 05-30-04 investigation completed by the First Judicial District Attorney
- 03-17-04 217 B Knox Court
*Earlier "decision letters" posted by request: