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Colorado’s 4th Judicial DA’s Office rules December officer-involved shooting justified

Posted at 1:24 PM, Sep 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-30 15:24:06-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Colorado’s 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office has ruled a December 2021 officer-involved shooting was justified.

The incident began on Dec. 8, 2021, in the 1700 block of Herd Street when Colorado Springs police responded to a reported burglary at approximately 2:30 a.m.

Responding Officers Jacob Kelly and Peter Mandry responded and were informed the homeowner was in a bedroom the suspect was attempting to enter.

As officers approached the home, they saw the suspect, Michael Pantoja, standing in the home at the front doorway with blood on his shirt and pants.

Pantoja dropped a knife and when he leaned down to pick it up, officers instructed that he leave it on the ground. However, Pantoja picked up the knife and rushed toward the officers.

Both officers retreated and gave commands to Pantoja to drop the knife. Pantoja continued to Officer Kelly who drew his weapon.

Officer Kelly called for Officer Mandry to use his taser and requested medical due to the blood on Pantoja's clothing.

Pantoja stopped and bent at the waist for about 15 seconds but then stood up abruptly and ran to Officer Kelly with the knife in his hand.

As verbal commands continued, Officer Mandry did not deploy his taser. Officer Kelly proceeded to discharge his weapon four times, all of them struck Pantoja.

These events took place within two minutes of officers arriving on the scene.

Officer Kelly began life-saving measures once the knife was secured. Multiple CSPD officers arrived and relieved Officer Kelly to take over life-saving efforts.

The Colorado Springs Fire Department arrived and continued life-saving measures, which led to no avail.

An autopsy revealed that Pantoja had multiple gunshot wounds to his right thigh, left chest, and two shots to the right chest.

Pantoja also had multiple self-inflicted stab wounds to his abdomen.

Toxicology analysis of Pantoja’s blood reported the presence of 156 ng/mL of Amphetamine and 1432 ng/mL of Methamphetamine.

It was later found that the stab wounds to Pantoja's abdomen happened at Pantoja's address.

All officers involved had their Body Worn Cameras activated which were incorporated in the investigation.

The follow-up investigation was later released. The full report can be read below:

During a post-shooting interview, Officer Kelly stated they approached Mr. Pantoja in a friendly manner, thinking Mr. Pantoja’s hands were empty at the time, saying “Police department, what’s going on?”

Officer Kelly was wearing his full uniform and announced himself as a CSPD officer. Officer Kelly had observed Mr. Pantoja covered in blood from an unknown source, he did not know if there was a victim inside the residence, and felt as though Mr. Pantoja would “hurt him or his partner.”

Mr. Pantoja then picked up the knife and Officer Kelley immediately issued the command to drop the knife.

Mr. Pantoja did not comply, and Officer Kelly retreated to the sidewalk as Mr. Pantoja approached “walking with a purpose” with the knife pointed in Officer Kelly’s direction causing Officer Kelly to feel Mr. Pantoja “wants to stab [him] with it.”

Officer Kelly then instructed Officer Mandry to use the lesser force of a taser as he continued verbal commands to stop and drop the knife. Officer Kelly warned Mr. Pantoja to stop, or he’d be shot.

Officer Kelly only discharged his weapon after Mr. Pantoja began “running” at Officer Kelly with his “hand lifted to torso level right next to his side” and Mr. Pantoja “was too close to [him] for any other option.”

Officer Kelly stated, “there was no way for [him] to be able to transition safely” to his taser as this “happened very quick” and Officer Kelly felt that Mr. Pantoja “wanted to kill [him].” At the time of the shooting, Officer Kelly was unaware of Officer Mandry’s specific location.

It was later determined that Pantoja died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds caused by the four bullets fired by Officer Kelly.

It was concluded that this was a homicide but the use of deadly force by Officer Kelly was justified.

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