Denver police officer fatally shot a man she thought held a knife. It was a marker.

A Denver police officer fatally shot a man she thought was holding a knife after responding to a domestic violence call earlier this month. As it turned out, the object in his hand was a black marker.

Police released graphic body-worn camera footage of the struggle, which showed an officer fire two shots at Brandon Cole, 36, as he ran toward her holding a marker, not a knife, authorities confirmed.

"This is a tremendous tragedy," Denver Police Chief Ron Thomas said during a news conference Monday about the shooting, which is still being investigated.

A resident called 911 on Aug. 5 regarding a potential domestic violence incident involving Cole, his wife, and teenage son, Denver Police Cmdr. Matt Clark said at a news conference Monday. The caller reported that a man may have pushed his wife out of her wheelchair.

Minutes later, two officers arrived in separate cars on the neighborhood street.

There were little more than 40 seconds between the officers’ arrival and shots fired, Clark said. 

Moments leading up to the shooting

When police arrived, the footage showed a woman sitting on the side of the road next to a wheelchair and a person standing next to her. An officer asked her if she required emergency medical services, and she responded that she needed an ambulance.

Don’t, don’t pull your gun out on my husband, please,” she later said.

Cole seems agitated as he says "let’s go" to an officer who calls to him using his first name. That officer tries to hit Cole with a stun gun, but only one probe makes contact.

Cole moves quickly around a parked car toward the other officer, raising his hands to chest level, but what he is holding isn’t clear in the video. She fires her handgun at him, and he collapses on the sidewalk.

A woman and a young child seen behind Cole in the video were not injured. They were not involved in the call to police.

“You can see in the video that when she finally deploys her duty weapon, the person is so close to her that the view of the young child and other person are not even clear to her,” Thomas said. “Certainly that was a consideration, but it was just there was not much time to act before she was overrun by that individual.”

Denver police have not released the names of the involved officers, but Thomas said they will be included in the Denver District Attorney’s review of the incident.

Clark said the officer who fatally shot Cole has been with the department since 2019 and was not involved in a police shooting incident prior to this. She will complete the department’s “reintegration program” before going back to a patrol assignment, Clark added.

'LIGHT' OF THE HOUSEHOLD:Colorado cop thought teen had a gun and fatally shot him after robbery. It was a pellet gun.

Police shootings across the nation

Ebony Cole, the man’s wife, has not spoken with investigators, and police have not been able to determine if any domestic violence had occured, Clark and Thomas said.

“That man was a good man. He didn’t deserve to be killed,” said Ebony Cole, according to The Associated Press. “They didn’t have to kill him.”

In 2022, 1,201 people were killed by police, according to the Police Violence Report, 97% of which were shooting incidents. Officers were charged with a crime in only 1% of those cases, the report noted.

Most killings began with police responding to suspected non-violent offenses or cases where no crime was reported, according to the report.

Earlier this year, a Colorado police officer fatally shot a teen carrying a pellet gun presumed to be a handgun. Police were chasing 14-year-old Jor’Dell Richardson, who was Black, on June 1 from a suburban Denver store, where he was believed to be involved in an armed robbery along with other teens. 

Body camera footage doesn't clearly show what happened as an officer tackled Richardson and the struggle that followed, but an officer can be heard telling him to get on the ground and using expletives.

At one point, Richardson says in the footage, "Stop, please. You got me."

Officer Roch Gruszeczka then tells Richardson to let go of a gun, warning that he will shoot. Gruszeczka fired one shot into Richardson's abdomen. Richardson's movements were obscured in the video, and Chief Art Acevedo said a focus of the investigation going forward will be where the pellet gun was and whether Richardson ever pointed it at officers.

"I’m sorry. I’m done. Help me. Take me to the hospital. Please," a wounded Richardson can be heard saying, adding that he couldn't breathe.

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