Adams County DA clears Aurora cop for lethal shooting of machete-wielding man in March

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AURORA | Adams County prosecutors on Tuesday absolved an Aurora police officer for shooting and killing a machete-wielding man in a north Aurora apartment earlier this year.

Dave Young, district attorney for north Aurora’s 17th Judicial District, determined there was not enough evidence to effectively prosecute Aurora Police Officer Justin Henderson in connection with the shooting death of 22-year-old Shamikle Jackson in March.

“There is no reasonable likelihood of success of proving any crimes beyond a reasonable doubt at trial,” Young wrote in an analysis of the incident released June 11. “Therefore, no criminal charges will be filed against the law enforcement officer involved in this incident.”

Henderson and three other Aurora officers responded to Jackson’s garden-level apartment at 2210 Dallas St. shortly before 9 a.m. on March 4 on reports that a man was holding hostages, and two people were dead. 

Upon arriving, officers spoke with Jackson’s sister, who came out of the apartment “looking confused,” according to Henderson’s account of the incident. Jackson’s sister told police her brother was the only one inside the apartment.

The four officers then entered the apartment and began to clear the area room by room. Henderson repeatedly shouted, “Aurora Police, come out with your hands up,” according to Young’s report. A person located in a back room repeatedly responded “come and get me.”

Officers then approached the room in which they could hear the voice and attempted to kick down the door. But entry to room “appeared to be barricaded,” according to the report. 

A moment later, Jackson came out of the room with a long knife or machete raised above his head. Henderson described Jackson as “ready to swing” and having a “determined angry face.” He recalled the blade measuring about 2 feet long.

Henderson then fired four rounds at Jackson using a Glock semiautomatic handgun, striking him three times. Officers began administering first aid, but Jackson was pronounced dead at University of Colorado Hospital about 45 minutes later.

No other officers fired their guns during the incident. Officer Keith Matthews fired his Taser at the same time Henderson fired his handgun.

The Adams County Coroner’s Office later determined Jackson was shot three times: once in the forearm, once in the back and once in the head. Either of the shots to his back or head by themselves would have been fatal, according to Forensic Pathologist Stephen Cina.

“The circumstances of death suggest some features of suicide by cop,” Cina wrote.

Jackson’s sister later told police her brother had been “acting weird” in the past month and “having problems with his ‘baby momma.’” She said Jackson had recently visited Aurora Mental Health for an unknown reason. 

While Young said there was not enough evidence to prove Henderson was not justified in shooting Jackson, he acknowledged the danger the officer was in. 

“Officer Henderson was dispatched to the location in reference to a possible hostage situation,” Young wrote. “At the time he fired his weapon, it is reasonable for him to believe that under these circumstances of an unknown male with a large machete knife raised over his head in close proximity to Officer Henderson and other officers in a very narrow hallway that not only his life was in danger, but also the lives of his fellow officers.”

No other people were injured in the incident, according to Aurora police. Officers found no other people in the apartment.

Authorities with the Aurora and Denver police departments presented the findings of their investigation into the incident to Young on May 9.