District Attorney Michael Dougherty hosted a town hall on Monday to explain his decision to decline to file criminal charges against the two City of Boulder officers who earlier this year shot and killed Christopher Swanger, 36.

Dougherty played clips of body camera footage worn by three officers during what appears to be the time they first encountered Swanger to the time they shot him. The footage revealed just how quickly the incident unfolded.

On the evening of May 25, two Boulder officers confronted Swanger, who had two arrest warrants for domestic violence allegations, in order to arrest him. About 25 seconds later, he was shot and killed. During the brief confrontation, Swanger fired one shot toward the officers, according to the District Attorney’s Office. Dougherty has said the officers were legally justified in shooting Swanger as a means of defense.  A recording of the town hall and the footage presented is available from the District Attorney’s Office.

The county coroner determined Swanger had methamphetamine in his system. Substance use is common in police shootings. Dougherty said he had spoken to his family prior to the town hall.

“I do want to emphasize that he was loved by his family,” Dougherty said. “They tried to help him at different points in his life when he was getting into difficult situations. And ultimately, although he died because of the decisions and actions that he made and took on May 25, he was very much loved by his family.”

The Boulder Police Department has denied multiple requests by Boulder Reporting Lab for the body-worn camera footage of the incident, citing an ongoing internal investigation by the department. The shooting is the fifth fatal shooting by city police officers since 2013.

Clarification: This story was clarified to indicate that the body-worn camera footage shown at the town hall covers the direct encounter between the police officers and Swanger, from what appears to be the officers’ first contact with Swanger until he was shot. 

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  1. The assailant should not have committed Domestic Violence, should not have been using Crystal Meth, should not have had a firearm, should have complied with a lawful police order, should not have drawn the firearm and fired a shot in a life threatening manner.

    My condolences to the Police Officers for the emotional toll the job places on them, especially in these modern times of rampant narcotic use in BoCo.

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