Three Adams County sheriff’s deputies have been cleared in a shooting last August in Northglenn, where a man wanted for attempted murder held a ride-share driver at gunpoint.
An investigation by 17th Judicial District officials into the Aug. 5 shooting, which left suspect Derrick Aranda dead, concluded that “there will be no criminal charges filed against the law enforcement officers involved in this incident,” according to a decision letter from District Attorney Brian Mason to Sheriff Gene Claps.
Aranda had failed to appear in Denver District County on July 14 for a pending charge of attempted first-degree murder and was suspected of violating his bond conditions by removing an ankle monitor that was required as part of his pretrial release.
A Denver police fugitive unit tracked him to a spot near the intersection of 88th Avenue and Corona Street, “where he was believed to be with a girlfriend and some family members,” according to a summary of the case in the letter.
Adams County deputies formed a perimeter around an apartment at 301 Malley Drive in Northglenn. They observed the girlfriend leave and enter a white Toyota Prius – a ride-share car driven by an immigrant who spoke Persian with a Dari dialect — and identified Aranda on a balcony and then walking toward the Prius. Deputies approached him and ordered him to the ground, the letter said. He ran toward the Prius, got inside, and shut the rear door as deputies converged around the vehicle.
They saw Aranda “hurriedly move inside the Prius from the backseat to the front seat while holding a black semi-automatic handgun in his hand,” according to the case summary. Three deputies then fired multiple shots at Aranda, who suffered gunshot wounds and died.
Each deputy gave investigators a similar account. When Deputy Isiah Acosta saw Aranda reaching into his waistband, he said he yelled: “Stop! Please don’t or I’ll shoot!” Acosta’s statement to investigators said. Acosta then “observed the muzzle of a handgun point in his direction” and he “was scared” that Aranda would shoot “but Deputy Acosta did not fire his gun because he was concerned for the safety of the other occupants of the Prius,” the letter stated.
Aranda then dropped the gun in the car, and Acosta opened the rear door, hoping that Aranda would surrender, Mason’s letter said. Aranda then picked up the gun and “had his gun pointed towards the driver” and then pointed it toward Deputy Lance Kestel next to Acosta, the letter said.
“Acosta was in fear for Deputy Kestel’s life, so he pointed his gun at Mr. Aranda through the open passenger’s side rear door and fired until Mr. Aranda was no longer moving. He believed that there were no other alternatives,” it said.
Deputies Kestel and Robert Bacigalupo also fired multiple rounds from their weapons at Aranda and later found a gun in the car.
The investigation, led by detectives from the Thornton Police Department, concluded that the deputies’ actions were “reasonable and justified” in response to the threats Aranda posed. None of the deputies involved was wearing a body camera.
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