Aurora cop will not face charges for shooting man holding an unloaded AR-15 rifle

An Aurora Police Department officer made the best decision possible when he shot a man holding an assault rifle because he was responding to a scene where reported gunshots had been fired and other officers and bystanders were at-risk, the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office determined.

Officer Joseph Carns will not face criminal charges in connection with the Oct. 20 shooting of Oscar Lucio-Vazquez, who was severely injured by multiple gunshot wounds, according to a DA’s decision letter released Friday. Lucio-Vazquez’s gun was not loaded, but the Chief Deputy District Attorney Amy Ferrin said that did not matter in her decision.

“I do not find the fact that the AR15 was unloaded to be relevant. I do not believe this would have been evident to a person given the distance, movement, darkness and brief interaction. Therefore, I do not believe this is a factor in whether Officer Carns’ belief was reasonable,” Ferrin wrote in the letter.

Carns was responding to a report of a fight at an apartment complex in the 9100 block of East 14th Avenue. A 911 caller said someone had a knife, and while driving to the complex Carns heard a report that two sets of shots had been fired, the letter said.

As Carns was walking toward the building, two women ran in his direction, shouting that a man had a gun. Carns saw a man holding an AR-15-rifle while climbing out a window. Carns yelled for the man to drop the gun, but he instead turned toward Carns, the women and other officers and lowered the weapon toward them, the letter said.

Carns fired five shots from his Glock 34 9mm.

The shooting was recorded by Carn’s body camera, but Ferrin said it was not helpful in determining what happened because the scene was too dark.

Lucio-Vazquez later told investigators that his rifle was not loaded but he had a loaded ammo magazine. He said someone had broken his apartment window in the earlier fight and he had the gun to defend his family, the DA’s letter said. Lucio-Vazquez is charged with one count of felony menacing in connection with the incident.

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