No charges for Colorado police officer who fatally shot fugitive

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 30, 2015 1:30 PM

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - A grand jury in Colorado has declined to bring charges against a Denver-area police officer who fatally shot an unarmed fugitive parolee who was wanted on suspicion of kidnapping and assault, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Naeschylus Vinzant, 37, had removed an electronic tracking device when he was shot dead on March 6 as SWAT team officers in the Denver suburb of Aurora sought to arrest him on separate warrants, Jefferson County prosecutors said in a statement.

The shooting followed a series of incidents, including the killings of unarmed black men by police in Missouri, New York City and elsewhere, that put the use of force by officers against minorities, the poor and the mentally ill under new scrutiny.

The white Aurora officer who fired one shot and hit Vinzant in the chest believed the victim "was about to pull a gun out of his pocket and engage in a gunfight with police," Jefferson County District Attorney Peter Weir said in the statement.

According to the grand jury's report on the incident, Vinzant, who was black, had an extensive violent criminal record that included previous arrests for attempted homicide and assault.

Weir said the investigation of the officer-involved shooting lasted more than four months and resulted in more than 3,700 pages of reports and interview transcripts.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Chris Reese and Dan Grebler)