AURORA | A car theft suspect is in critical condition after an Aurora police officer accidentally shot him Thursday night in Denver, police said Friday.
The shooting happened just before 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 17, in northeast Denver when the officer, who works for Aurora police and is assigned to a regional auto theft task force, tried to arrest the suspect on a snowy sidewalk and lost his footing, police said.
“I think the footing plays a part in this,” said Denver police Commander Ron Saunier.
Because the shooting happened in Denver, Denver police will lead the investigation and the Denver District Attorney will decide whether the officer will face charges, Aurora and Denver police said during a joint press conference Friday at Aurora police headquarters.
Police said the incident started when officers investigating an auto theft ring followed a stolen car from a home in Commerce City that investigators believe was a hub of car theft.
The stolen white Honda pulled into a northeast Denver parking lot and the driver abandoned it, police said, and later sped away in a black Acura.
Officers in unmarked cars chased the vehicle and when the driver tried a U-turn at East 45th Avenue and Ivy Street, officers pinned the car.
The driver, who was not armed, jumped out and tried to flee, police said. When the Aurora officer tried to arrest him, the officer lost his footing and fired a single shot, striking the man in his torso, police said.
The officer, whose name has not been released, is a 16-year Aurora police veteran and known as an auto theft expert, said Aurora police Chief Nick Metz.
“He is incredibly well respected,” Metz said.
Because of the shooting, Metz said he has ordered a review of the department’s gun-handling training, as well as a tactical review of the incident.
The auto theft suspect, who has not been charged with a crime because he remains in the hospital, will likely face auto theft charges from Commerce City and other charges stemming from the chase, Saunier said.
Saunier identified the man as 20-year-old Christopher Padilla.