Review finds Northglenn and Thornton officers were justified in use of deadly force against suspect at golf course

Officers who killed a man in an exchange of gunfire on a golf course in Thornton were justified in their use of deadly force, according to an investigative review.

Lucas Antonio Salas was shot by police on Aug. 18 on the Thorncreek Golf Course as he exchanged gunfire with officers, according to a police shooting decision letter released by the Adams County District Attorney’s Office. The letter dated Monday was addressed to the police chiefs of Thornton and Northglenn.

Salas, who was wanted on an arrest warrant for a parole violation, eluded officers who attempted to take him into custody, investigators said. Fleeing an apartment complex in Northglenn, Salas drove off road and through a fence to avoid capture. He fired a gun at Northglenn officer Joshua Moreau’s police car in the area of East 120th Avenue and Washington Street during a police chase.

Police pursuit continued and Salas ran the 2003 Nissan sedan he was driving into a ditch near the golf course at East 136th Avenue and Washington. Salas fled the crash on foot, onto the golf course, with officers pursuing him. Other people who were in the vehicle remained inside it.

Officers chased down Salas, yelling commands for him to stop, according to the review. When they got close Salas drew a gun and fired. Thornton officer Mikal Timm and Northglenn officer Charles Festi “returned fire,” striking Salas. He was taken to a nearby hospital and pronounced dead.

A crime scene investigation determined that Timm fired three shots and Festi fired four. Officer Moreau did not fire his weapon. A .40 caliber Smith and Wesson handgun was found near Salas. He fired one shot on the golf course, according to the review. The back window of the Nissan was shattered and three .40 caliber casings were recovered from inside the sedan.

A drug screen of Salas, as part of the investigation, was positive for amphetamines and fentanyl, according to the review letter.

“Based on the evidence presented and the applicable Colorado law, there is no basis for charging the involved officers in this incident, nor would there be a reasonable likelihood of success of proving the elements of any crime as it relates to the law enforcement officers’ involvement in this incident,” the letter said. “Therefore, there will be no criminal charges filed against the officers involved in this incident.”

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