DA clears Aurora cops for shooting suspect 19 times after high-speed car chase in June

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AURORA | A district attorney investigator said Aurora police officers were justified when they shot Antonio Sanchez Jr. 19 times, killing him after a high-speed chase through Aurora in June.

After a months-long investigation, investigators from the 18th Judicial District on Friday released a 12-page report saying police were justified in shooting Sanchez to death in self-defense on June 29.

The deadly conflict began June 28, when APD dispatched officers to Children’s Hospital Colorado to investigate a man who was shot in a parking lot. The report filed by Chief Deputy District Attorney Jacob Edson said APD identified Sanchez as the possible shooter and told officers to be on the lookout for him.

The next day, an officer spotted Sanchez sitting in the backseat of a car driven by a woman, with another in the passenger seat. According to the report, Sanchez was quickly identified in part because of a prominent tattoo on his forehead.

According to interviews with one of the women included in the report, Sanchez had asked the women to drive him to pick up methamphetamine, which he bought and smoked in the car.

In the report, the woman said Sanchez “became paranoid” that APD officers were tailing the car — and they were.

When cops tried to pull the car over near East Alameda Avenue and South Peoria Street, Sanchez forced the driver out of the moving car and the woman in the passenger side jumped out.

Sanchez, now behind the wheel, led officers on a high-speed chase at up to 60 miles per hour, the report said, until an officer maneuvered the car into the brick wall of a Sinclair gas station at East Sixth Avenue and Billings Street.

At one point, about 20 squad cars were in pursuit of Sanchez, the report said.

Police rushed the crashed car. Officers said they could see Sanchez “frantically” search his car for something and he produced a gun, police told DA investigators. Three officers fired 19 rounds into Sanchez’s car, killing him. Ten bullets hit Sanchez, including one in the head and one in the neck, according to coroner findings.

APD officers found a handgun on the floor of Sanchez’s car. Investigators determined it was used in the original parking lot shooting on June 28. An autopsy at the Arapahoe County coroner office found Sanchez had meth in his system at the time of death.

Sanchez was also wanted on precious drug charges in Adams County.

APD officers have been involved in eight shootings this year. Arapahoe County Sheriff Deputies shot and killed an armed man yesterday.

— Sentinel Colorado staff writer Quincy Snowdon contributed to this report.