Body cam released after Aurora PD officers were cleared in fatal shooting on RTD bus

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Two Aurora police officers will not face criminal charges for fatally shooting an intoxicated man on an RTD bus Oct. 2 last year, 17th Judicial District Attorney's Office decided.

The man had boarded an RTD bus armed with a kitchen knife. Before the officers fired, two other officers tried to restrain him, one also using a Taser, according to a decision letter from District Attorney Brian Mason.

Alexander Collins was in a housing program for mental health and substance abuse treatment run by the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, called Arapahoe Diverts the Mentally Ill for Treatment, as part of a felony conviction, authorities said.

Late in the afternoon on Oct. 2, another client of the program contacted an off-duty sheriff’s deputy to report strange behavior by Collins and that he had stayed up the night before drinking and smoking fentanyl. He told the deputy Collins had a knife.

Another deputy on duty, Anthony Archuleta, tried to speak with Collins, but stopped engaging with him when Collins got angry because Archuleta did not have armor on. He continued to watch Collins from his car and asked for emergency help from the Aurora Police Department, authorities said.

Before Aurora officers contacted Collins, he went into a store and took a pack of cigarettes and got on a bus going west on Colfax Avenue, still with a knife. The bus driver stopped when he heard the police vehicles coming.

Officers Robert Wong and Kevin Manley boarded the bus and tried to restrain Collins from behind. Before getting on the bus, Wong shouts at Collins to get off, his handgun raised, footage from his body-worn camera shows.

Wong also released his police dog, which bit Collins, but didn’t take him to the ground. Passengers crowded toward the back of the bus to get away from the commotion, according to the body-worn camera footage.

Two other officers at the scene, Jordan Diekneit and Jason Oviatt, fired their handguns at Collins when he did not obey commands to get off the bus and drop his knife, and Wong and Manley struggled to restrain him, according to the district attorney’s decision letter. Collins was shot in the abdomen and upper chest.

About 13 seconds passed between Wong trying to restrain Collins and Diekneit and Oviatt firing. About eight shots rang out.

Mason noted the officers’ efforts to stop Collins with nonlethal force in his letter, finding Diekneit and Oviatt’s actions justified. A reasonable officer likely would have made the same decision, he said.

"Mr. Collins’ refusal to obey commands and his actions with a deadly weapon caused these officers to make a split-second and, indeed, reasonable judgment in a tense and quickly evolving situation, as clearly shown in the video evidence,” wrote Mason.

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