A Denver Police Department officer who fired 14 rounds at a car thief holding a handgun will not face criminal charges in the fatal January shooting.
Officer Joseph Heckenkamp struck Nico Descheenie, 25, five times after he pointed a gun at himself, at another driver and her 2-year-old daughter and at the officers, according to a 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office letter clearing Heckenkamp of criminal wrongdoing. Denver police Sgt. Timothy Hyatt also will not face charges; Hyatt tried to fire at Descheenie but his gun malfunctioned.
“Mr. Descheenie would still be alive if he had not threatened a mother and her daughter and then police officers with a firearm,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Jason Siers wrote. “Mr. Descheenie is solely responsible for his death.”
On Jan. 6, Denver officers used a Starchase GPS dart to track a stolen Chevrolet Avalanche, driven by Descheenie, the letter said. After Descheenie parked the car at a storage business in Aurora, Heckenkamp chased him to East Iliff Avenue and Interstate 225 and other officers joined him there to arrest Descheenie.
Descheenie pulled a handgun from his jacket and pointed it at his own head, the letter said. Officers ordered him to drop the gun and “Don’t do it,” the letter said, but Descheenie instead crossed the road and attempt to carjack a woman, who was driving with her 2-year-old daughter.
She drove away, and Descheenie then pointed his gun at the officers, the letter said. Descheenie died at a hospital after he was shot.
An autopsy report found Descheenie had used methamphetamine and alcohol before the shooting, the letter said. Investigators reviewed officers’ body camera and business surveillance footage, witness interviews and officer interviews in the case.
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