BY PETER JONES
The actions of an Arapahoe County sheriff’s deputy who fatally shot an armed teenager were legally justifiable, according to a review by the District Attorney’s Office.
On the early morning of May 31, James Daniel Hill, 17, was shot in the back by Deputy Robert Knudsen in Centennial during a foot chase after Hill and two others carjacked a Nissan Altima from an apartment complex shortly before 5 a.m.
Knudsen responded to the scene and spotted the moving car, knowing one of the perpetrators was reportedly armed. When the driver of the Nissan tried to head westbound on Dry Creek Road, Knudsen’s patrol car intentionally struck the rear driver’s side. There were now five people inside the car, and all jumped out and ran.
The deputy chased the suspects on foot with his gun drawn, pursuing two males, yelling for them to stop while two women fled in a different direction. Hill held a gun as he ran. Knudsen warned the suspects he would shoot. None of the deputy’s orders were followed.
As the deputy ran after Hill, Knudsen reported that he became concerned about a possible encounter with residents of an apartment complex they were running through.
Knudsen was further worried that he was about to lose the suspect and so he fired two shots, one striking Hill in the back. Hill fell down and dropped the pistol he was carrying.
Knudsen gave Hill first-responder aid and called for help, though Hill was later pronounced dead at a hospital
Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Pearson said in the review that based on the evidence Knudsen reasonably believed his life was in jeopardy at the time he fired the shots.
“Hill presented an imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death to other police officers and to members of the public …,” the report said. “Deputy Knudsen was acting in self-defense and defense of others when he shot James Hill and the he was justified in eliminating the threat of further harm.”
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