A Denver police officer was cleared Wednesday for shooting and killing a man in the Highland neighborhood last August after the man had just fired at another officer at close range.
Officer Thomas Schmidt “was forced to make a split-second judgement, and his decision to shoot Mr. (Juan Carlos) Macias in self-defense and in defense of others was justified under Colorado law,” Denver District Attorney Beth McCann wrote in a letter explaining her decision not to charge the officer.
On Aug. 31, two women called separately around 10 p.m. to report a man harassing them in the area of 15th Street and Central Street, the DA said. When officers arrived, a restaurant employee pointed out Macias, who fit the description from the earlier calls.
The officers were speaking with Macias in a cordial manner, police said, when all of a sudden Macias pulled a revolver from his waistband and fired a round at an officer from only a few feet away, the district attorney’s office said. After seeing Macias fire the shot, which missed the other officer, Schmidt fired at Macias, striking him six to seven times.
Macias died at the hospital several days later.
“Officer Schmidt, believing that he and others were in danger of coming to serious harm, fired in defense of himself, of Officer Aranda, and of others who were nearby,” McCann wrote. “This belief was reasonable and therefore Officer Schmidt was justified in firing at Mr. Macias.