Two Denver police officers who killed man acted legally, DA rules

Two Denver police officers who shot and killed a man who rushed toward them with a knife in January acted within the law, Denver District attorney Beth McCann ruled Monday.

The Jan. 1 incident happened around 1 a.m. inside a home at 901 South Irving Street. The officers were called to the home by a roommate of Gerardo Antonio Conchas-Bustos, 27. The roommate met police outside and told officers Juan Gamboa and Diego Archuleta that Conchas-Bustos attacked him with a pipe and that two women were still inside the house with Conchas-Bustos.

Three officers went with the roommate back to the house, announced themselves and moved inside to check that the women were OK. As they walked through the home with their guns drawn, Conchas-Bustos came quickly up a set of basement stairs and moved toward officers with a large knife in his hand.

Gamboa was closest to Conchas-Bustos, and fired six times. Behind him, Archuleta fired once.

Conchas-Bustos fell, and the officers handcuffed and frisked him while calling for backup. One officer then performed chest compressions on Conchas-Bustos while he was still handcuffed, according to body camera footage of the incident. Conchas-Bustos died at the scene.

The officers were justified in killing Conchas-Bustos because they acted in self-defense, McCann said in a Monday decision letter.

“When Mr. Conchas-Bustos quickly came at Officer Gamboa with a large knife in his right hand in the small mud room, he gave Officer Gamboa no other alternative but to discharge his weapon,” McCann wrote in the letter, saying that Gamboa could not retreat because of the small room and that Archuleta was behind him.

“The moment Mr. Conchas-Bustos appeared around the corner and rushed at Officer Gamboa was less than two seconds,” the letter reads. “Officer Gamboa had to make a split-second judgment in the small mud room.”

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