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Family Attorney Contends CMPD Mishandled Shooting

CMPD bodycam footage

An attorney for the family of Iaroslav Mosiiuk says police footage backs up the assertion that officers mishandled the situation leading to the shooting of the 25-year-old Ukrainian immigrant.

Mosiiuk's sister, Olesya Tabaka, called police to her home on Justice Avenue last March because she feared her brother had become suicidal. Mosiiuk had not slept for days and was acting irrationally. She told dispatchers that he had access to a gun - a bolt-action Remington rifle - but it was missing the bolt that allowed it to fire bullets.

As officers arrived at the home and knocked on the front door, one of the two officers, Michael Denzenzo, abruptly shouts "Gun! Gun! Gun!" and the two scramble for cover behind their cruisers parked on the street. Mosiiuk, meanwhile, exists the house brandishing the rifle.

In police footage of the incident, Tabaka, who is standing in the street, is heard frantically telling police, again, "He doesn't have the part," moments before Officer Brian Walsh fires a single shot, hitting Mosiiuk in the back and toppling him in the driveway.

According to CMPD's internal directives, when officers encounter a person suffering from mental illness, they should call for MEDIC as soon as reasonable, and if the person is armed or combative, officers should "make efforts to minimize the intensity and duration of the subject's resistance and to avoid engaging in a potentially prolonged struggle."

If the person poses an immediate threat, officers are permitted to employ the amount of force that's "reasonable and necessary to protect themselves and others."

Lauren Newton, an attorney representing the family of Mosiiuk, contends that officers should have known the gun was inoperable and should have sought to deescalate the situation.

"What's clear is Ms. Tabaka made a mental health call," Newton said, "That is not how the officers approached the situation."

Still, District Attorney Andrew Murray wrote last week that the shooting was justified because Walsh testified seeing Mosiiuk point the rifle at Denzenzo, and he feared for his partner's life - though in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, Walsh is heard saying into his radio, "Motherf----- pointed a gun at me."

Murray wrote that there was no way for the officers to have known for sure whether or not the rifle was working.