Two Colorado Springs police officers will not face charges in the fatal shooting of a man in April while investigating a reported assault, the Fourth Judicial District Attorney’s Office said Wednesday.
Officers Colton Graham and Thomas Walling were justified in using deadly force because they believed Jonathan Patzel, 29, was going to attack them, the DA’s Office said.
State law allows officers to use deadly force to arrest a person suspected of committing — or about to commit — a felony with a deadly weapon.
“Based upon the obvious circumstances confronting the officers when they encountered the suspect, the District Attorney’s Office has concluded that Officers Walling and Graham were justified in using deadly physical force, and no charges will be forthcoming,” a DA’s Office news release said.
The DA’s Office gave the following account:
Officers were called to the Arbor Pointe Apartment Homes at 4:26 p.m. April 24 on a report of a domestic disturbance.
Dina Franklin, 57, “had fled her apartment,” telling a neighbor who called police that Patzel had slapped her, choked her and threatened her with a butcher knife.
Four uniformed officers — Colton Graham, Thomas Walling, Ryan Levichi and Sgt. Patricia Turechek — spoke to Franklin and discovered that Patzel was wanted for escape by the Colorado Department of Corrections.
Police were unable to get Patzel to answer the door of Franklin’s apartment. As they sought to get him to come out, they smelled smoke from inside.
Walling shined a flashlight under the door. Smoke began to seep out of the apartment, and the fire alarm went off in the hallway.
The officers broke down the door, and Patzel charged toward them with his hands above his head.
Graham and Walling shot Patzel, “causing him to fall back into the apartment.” Inside, they found 7-inch butcher knife in the entry hall where Patzel charged the officers.
While handcuffing Patzel and taking him out of the apartment, officers used a fire extinguisher “to fight the flames that were now visible.” They were unable to put it out, forcing the evacuation of the entire complex.
Firefighters extinguished the fire.
Patzel died at a hospital. Graham also was treated at a hospital for smoke inhalation.
Colorado Springs police have fatally shot three people this year. The first, in January, has been ruled justified, while one in May remains under review.
Bill Gerald Akes, 48, was killed Jan. 12 after pulling a hatchet on officers investigating a report of a suspicious man in a stolen vehicle in the parking lot of an apartment near Motor City.
Sean Michael Collins, 29, was killed May 18 after barricading himself in an apartment near Garden of the Gods Road and Centennial Boulevard, then allegedly firing at officers.
Police were called to the apartment by neighbors who heard a loud argument among the apartment’s residents. Neighbors said a woman and an infant got out safely before Collins barricaded himself inside.
The Gazette’s Ellie Mulder contributed to this report.