Police: Man pulls gun on theft suspect, is shot, killed by officer

Police: Man pulls gun on theft suspect, is shot, killed by officer

Austen Erblat | KCNC via CNN

A man who pulled a gun on an alleged thief was shot and killed by an Aurora police officer who responded to the initial confrontation, police said in an update. The alleged thief was later arrested and given a court summons.

It started around 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 23 at a bus stop near East Colfax Avenue and Havana Street. In a statement, the Aurora Police Department said officers were monitoring surveillance cameras of the area, saw a confrontation between two men and responded to the scene.

The confrontation was an apparent theft of a backpack, the department said. The alleged thief, later identified as 32-year-old Dominque Harris, took another man’s backpack. The now-deceased man has not yet been identified, but police say he drew a gun on Harris. When officers arrived to the area, they saw the armed man and Aurora Police Officer Caleb Parrella shot the man, the department said.

He was taken to the hospital and later died of his injuries. The Arapahoe County Coroner’s Office will identify the man after his next of kin has been notified and perform an autopsy.

Parrella, who’s been with Aurora police for four years, and another officer who responded but didn’t fire their weapon were both placed on paid administrative leave, per department policy.

Now the shooting is under investigation by the 18th Judicial Critical Incident Response Team and the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau. The department’s major crime homicide unit is also investigating the dispute between the two men.

Aurora Police Chief Art Acevedo said in a news conference the morning of the shooting that officers issued commands at the man. From his initial telling of events, the shooting unfolded “in a matter of seconds” from the time officers arrived at the scene. He said he didn’t believe the man shot at officers but was not sure if he fired at the alleged thief before officers arrived.

“The officer started yelling some commands to the individual and at some point, there is a discharge of the firearm,” Acevedo said.

CBS News Colorado sent questions to the department Sunday but did not immediately receive a response.

Acevedo also said that the entire shooting was captured on video. CBS News Colorado also requested that footage and the request is pending.

Parrella, the officer who shot the man, was named in a separate federal lawsuit last week for an arrest in 2021 where the plaintiff, Antonio Johnson, accused Parrella and Officer Brendan Daves of excessive force when Parrella tased him and the two pulled him out of his car when his hands were up. During that traffic stop, Johnson said he didn’t want the officers to hurt him.

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The officers “were investigating a traffic violation,” “could see Mr. Johnson’s hands,” “had no reason to believe Mr. Johnson had a weapon,” and “had no reason to believe Mr. Johnson was fleeing,” attorneys for Johnson wrote in that Aug. 17 lawsuit.

The Aurora Police Department has been the subject of close scrutiny and criticism, both from the community and the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, for a number of high-profile deaths and excessive force incidents at the hands of Aurora officers.