DA: Aurora cop justified shooting man in 2021 motel room raid

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AURORA | An Aurora Police Department officer has been cleared of criminal charges after shooting and wounding a fugitive during a raid, according to a letter penned by the 17th Judicial District Attorney Brian Mason.

Shannon Owens was shot in July 2021, after law enforcement tracked him to a room at Wolf’s Motor Inn, 15691 E Colfax Ave. Owens was wanted on multiple warrants, including one warrant for failure to appear in court on an attempted murder charge and two warrants related to illegally possessing firearms.

The letter states the FBI and Denver-area law enforcement agencies tracked Owens with the help of location data obtained from his cell phone using a search warrant.

At about 5:30 p.m. on July 6, law enforcement identified him in the parking lot of Wolf’s Motor Inn, where he was seen arguing with a woman, before the two went into a room together.

“Without further information, the arrest team was concerned that the adult female might be a hostage,” the DA’s letter reads. “Given the dynamic and potentially dangerous situation, the arrest team called for additional resources, including the Aurora Police Department (APD) and Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) SWAT teams.”

Police called Owens inside the motel room, which he refused to exit. They surrounded the room and called members of his family to try to persuade him to surrender, but Owens remained barricaded inside.

Eventually, police developed a plan to remove the woman who was inside with Owens, and who police believed could be a hostage, according to a statement from Mason. They prepared to use explosives to open observation holes in one wall of the room, while members of the SWAT team would charge in through the front door.

Officers first set off a flashbang device at the door. Immediately afterward, they heard a gunshot inside of the room, which was also captured on body-worn camera recordings of the incident, according to the DA letter.

Police decided to force their way into the room. APD SWAT Officer Oscar Pena was inside of the motel room next to Owens’. Once an explosive charge knocked a hole through the wall, Pena looked into the room and saw Owens lying on the ground, pointing a handgun at him.

The DA letter says Pena believed Owens had just shot the woman, who he told investigators was “intertwined” with Owens, and would try to shoot police officers if they entered the room.

“Officer Pena concluded that he had no other options,” the letter states. “He decided to stop the threat of force by Mr. Owens by aiming his handgun and firing it at Mr. Owens’ lower body.”

Pena’s body-worn camera wasn’t aimed through the hole in the wall, but other officers’ camera footage shows Pena approaching the hole and ordering Owens twice to show his hands before shooting, the letter said.

Pena fired his weapon three times, hitting Owens once in the left knee and once in the back. At that point, Owens dropped his gun. Other officers approached Owens and secured the woman. They also found a handgun near Owens with a bullet in the chamber and a loaded magazine.

A bullet hole was found inside the room, but the DA letter notes that “given the condition and use of the Room 224 at Wolf’s Motor Inn, it could not be determined if the bullet hole was caused by Mr. Owens or from some other event.”

The woman who had been in the room with Owens told police that she did not see him with a gun and had not been taken hostage.

The 17th Judicial District Critical Incident Response Team, led by two Thornton detectives, investigated the shooting. Based on their investigation, Mason wrote that he would not be filing charges against Pena.

“Officer Pena’s decision to shoot Mr. Owens was made in an effort to eliminate the risk of injury to himself, the female, and the other arresting officers,” he wrote. “I find Officer Pena’s decision to be justified.”

The letter notes that charges against a civilian are pending in Adams County District Court as a result of the investigation.

It was not clear whether that individual was Owens, who was charged with menacing, possession of a weapon by a previous offender, failure to leave the premises with a weapon and possession of a controlled substance in connection with the July 6 incident.

Owens’ next court hearing is set for Aug. 1.

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Bob
Bob
1 month ago

Wolf’s Motor Inn at one time (many years ago) was known as decent place which included a local respectable steak house. Now it’s become such a flop house known for infested with bed-bugs and every other problem that is the norm and easily has overcome  East Colfax.  And this city with its virtuous  high minded city councilors gallivanting all across the world to figure out what’s the city to do to clean up their own backyard? We keep electing these genius, that say they need Paris to learn what’s new. Next time they should be going to stay a Wolfs for three days, it will be just like a new world.