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Demonstrators Protest Deadly Police Shooting Outside DA's House

DENVER (CBS4)- Protesters demonstrated outside Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey's home after he announced his decision that a police officer was justified in the shooting death of a man who was holding a knife and refusing to comply with officers' instructions.

(credit: CBS)

"If Mitch Morrissey won't bring justice to us, I think it's appropriate that our neighbors bring justice to him," said concerned citizen Elisabeth Epps.

Surveillance video released by the DA's office shows Officer Michael Traudt as he made the split-second decision to fire at Paul Castaway on July 12. The shooting occurred just before 8 p.m. that night in the 4500 block of Morrison Road near West Kentucky Avenue.

Castaway, 35, first ran from officer and then turned and advanced toward Officer Traudt and his partner while holding a large knife in his hand and at his own throat.

knife on ground
(credit: CBS)

"If you, as an armed, an armored law enforcement agent, two of you cannot disarm at some dozen feet away, a man who's acutely ill armed only with a kitchen knife, maybe you shouldn't be a cop," said Epps.

Officers had been looking for Castaway after his mother called 911 to report that her son held a knife to her throat.

Protesters gathered outside Morrissey's home earlier this week, flashing images and video of Castaway's final moments.

"Why does Officer Mike Traudt have a Taser if he's not going to use it?" asked Epps.

The DA's Office provided this statement in response to the protesters: "Ms. Epps voices concerns shared with some others, because they may not have a true understanding of officer safety protocol, or the law. If she still feels that not indicting officer Traudt was the wrong decision, rather than protest at the District Attorney's house, she should seek a judicial review."

In a letter to White, the DA states the officer's use of deadly force was justified. The letter also provided information that Castaway was under the influence of drugs, suicidal and acting extremely violent when police tried to take him into custody. Castaway died at the hospital.

In the letter, the DA acknowledges that the suspect was holding the knife to his own throat, but continued to aggressively approach the officer while refusing to comply with his orders.

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