AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Police in Aurora have released the identity of a suspect shot by an officer Sunday night.
According to police, Nathanial Gebretsadik, 19, is in critical condition after being shot by an officer. It was the fourth officer-involved shooting in Aurora this month.
It started with a traffic stop at the intersection of East Evans Avenue and South Blackhawk Street about 11 p.m. Police said there were four people inside the car but when officers approached, one person, identified as Gebretsadik, got out and ran away.
According to Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz, during the short chase Gebretsadik pulled out a gun.
“They stopped the vehicle for a defective taillight. They found that the car was occupied by four people. When officers approached the car they smelled marijuana,” Metz said at a news conference on Tuesday. “As the officers were attempting to (identify) the occupants of the vehicle and attempting to take some of the subjects out of the vehicle, one of the subjects took off running.”
Metz said one of the officers gave chase and “saw the subject produce a handgun.”
“When they got into a nearby parking lot the subject stumbled and fell, and when he came up, he came up pointing the gun at the officer,” Metz said. “The officer at this time was still giving numerous commands … the subject turned to run and again turned towards the officer, again pointing the weapon at the officer.”
At that point the officer fired one shot and struck the suspect. Gebretsadik was then taken into custody and rushed to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. On Tuesday he remained in critical condition. He was shot in the pelvic region.
The gun that was recovered hadn’t been reported stolen but Metz said Gebretsadik wasn’t in legal possession of the gun. According to Major Crimes Sgt. Matt Fyles the gun was real and loaded.
Fyles said Gebretsadik has an extensive criminal history.
“With us it includes 26 prior arrests. Some of those crimes … many of them are crimes of violence that include robbery, weapons offenses, aggravated assault,” Fyles said.
No others, including officers, were injured in the incident, and the three other occupants of the vehicle were detained. Two were released but another, who allegedly fought with officers, was arrested after police say they found him with ecstasy.
The officer involved was placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation per department policy.
CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger counted eight officer-involved shootings in Aurora since Nov. 30 of last year. By comparison there was a total of eight for all of 2015.
State Rep. Jovan Melton of Aurora thinks it’s time for what he called a “de-escalation.”
“If we are looking at shootings we want to make sure they are doing their job, but at the same time that that’s not the first place that they go — that they don’t go straight for their firearm,” Melton said. “It really is concerning to hear that kind of routine traffic stops are turning into violent episodes.”
Aurora Deputy City Manager Nancy Freed issued a statement saying, “We are concerned about each and every crime or incident that occurs in the city, and that’s why we conduct thorough investigations and take appropriate actions.”