TDoR 2024 / 2024 / June / 23 / M. Tapia

M. Tapia

Age 52

23 Jun 2024
Denver, Colorado (USA)

M. Tapia

M. was shot in the street by police officers after she approached them while carrying a knife. The circumstances suggest her death may have been a "suicide by cop".

Two weeks after Denver Police shot and killed 52-year-old [deadname] Tapia, who was threatening officers with a knife, investigators know little more than Tapia's name and age.

“I do want to acknowledge the tragedy of the death,” said Denver Police Chief Ron Thomas at a press briefing Tuesday. “And also our significant regret at the fact that despite significant efforts to try to identify next of kin, we've not been able to make a family notification as we would've liked and so those efforts will continue.”

Tapia, a trans woman, spoke Spanish, at one point telling the officers something.“I think translated to mean ‘kill me,’” according to Thomas.

“I don’t think that we’ll ever know what their desire was in that situation,” said Thomas, who referred to Tapia using they/them pronouns. “But certainly the presence of the knife, the proximity that that individual got to those officers with the knife, I think makes their response appropriate.”

A timeline of the shooting

At around 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 16, reports came in to police about a person blocking traffic in the area of Broadway and Lawrence Street. A Denver Park Ranger at the scene called police at 11:45 a.m., reporting that the person was armed with an 8-inch knife and refusing to get out of the road. Officers quickly responded and found Tapia, and positioned their patrol cars to divert traffic.

The encounter, captured on body camera, lasted only seconds. One officer told Tapia to put their hands on their head at least three times. Tapia then pulled out a large knife from a bag and advanced quickly towards the officer. A second officer gave commands in Spanish.

Two officers deployed their Tasers. One of the officers deployed his Taser twice.

As Tapia got closer with the knife drawn, both officers opened fire — 12 shots in all, and Tapia fell motionless into the street. Police rendered aid to Tapia after the shooting, and an ambulance arrived quickly, but Tapia was pronounced dead at the scene. [Archive:]

Report added: 2 Jul 2024. Last updated: 8 Jul 2024

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This site contains reports of violence against transgender people, and links to detailed reports which contain graphic imagery.

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