No charges for ArapCo deputy who shot car thief during melee in January

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AURORA | Prosecutors in the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office have determined that an Arapahoe County Sheriff’s deputy used appropriate force when he shot and wounded a suspected car thief who rammed a Chevy Silverado into another sheriff’s deputy during a chaotic altercation on the Aurora border in January.

Diego Castorena Gallegos. Photo provided by the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Jason Siers found that Deputy Trevor Cuaz was legally justified when he shot Diego Gallegos, 23, three times while in the parking lot of the Cornerstar Ranch Apartments just past the Aurora border with Centennial at South Parker Road and South Chambers Road.

“Deputy Cuaz’s actions were reasonable and justifiable based on Diego Gallegos’s actions,” Siers wrote in a letter outlining his decision released June 8. “ … No criminal charges will be filed against Deputy Cuaz.”

Cuaz was one of several law enforcement officials who attempted to arrest Gallegos at about 7:45 p.m. Jan. 22, according to Siers’ decision letter.

Both undercover and uniformed officials planned to arrest Gallegos after learning he had recently sold a stolen Dodge Ram to a husband and wife, Jorge Jaime-Baez and Alexis Ruder-Iturrino. They promptly abandoned the vehicle in a traffic median near East Arapahoe Road and Nome Street. The couple was arrested for knowingly purchasing a stolen car from Gallegos and told authorities that he would be at the Centennial apartment later that day to sell drugs.

“Mr. Gallegos steals trucks, sells methamphetamines and carries a 9mm handgun,” Ruder-Iturrino, who went into labor while being booked into the Arapahoe County jail on outstanding warrants, told authorities.

Gallegos was also believed to be associated with a cartel, according to call notes compiled by the local sheriff’s office.

Upon observing Gallegos arrive at the Centennial apartment complex later that evening, deputies parked immediately in front of Gallegos’ car, a stolen Chevy Silverado. Cuaz and fellow Deputy Alan Wilson confronted Gallegos, who remained in the Silverado, and told him to put his hands up.

Gallegos did not heed the commands, and instead rammed the deputies’ F-150 parked directly in front of him in an apparent attempt to flee the scene. He then immediately backed up, pinning Wilson against a car parked in an adjacent parking space. Wilson was seriously harmed as a result.

Gallegos proceeded to reverse the truck into a nearby lawn, eventually striking an electrical box.

Cuaz then shot at the truck eight times using a Glock 34 pistol, striking Gallegos three times: two rounds grazed his head and chest, and a third penetrated his arm. Gallegos was immediately apprehended after he was shot, according to Siers’ letter.

Gallegos has since been charged with eight different felony counts in Arapahoe County District Court, including assault on a peace officer and car theft.

He’s scheduled to appear next in court at 1:30 p.m. on June 18.