Suspect in fatal beating avoided arrest before surrendering

A Denver police official said 27-year-old homicide suspect Sahr Mbawa avoided arrest with false claims when he was contacted by a Denver officer days before his surrender.

Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson said a patrol officer on the night of Nov. 3 contacted Mbawa, who was “acting suspicious” in a high-crime neighborhood in the Denver metro area.

Early that morning, Mbawa had beaten a man to death outside a bar, Grand Junction police allege.

Jackson didn’t know what exactly Mbawa did to draw suspicion of an officer the night of Nov. 3 or where in Denver he was contacted.  Jackson said the officer didn’t realize he had contacted a wanted murder suspect until he subsequently was shown Mbawa’s old booking photo.

Mbawa had given the officer his brother’s identification, Denver police now allege.

Mbawa surrendered Friday afternoon in Denver and was booked on suspicion of false reporting to a police officer, a misdemeanor. His bond was set at $500.

Jackson said the charge was forwarded to the Denver District Attorney’s Office and may or may not be filed, given the homicide case in Grand Junction.

Jackson said Mbawa has family in the Denver area, and patrol officers had been trying to arrest him for days before he walked into Denver police headquarters on Friday.

Mbawa was wanted on suspicion of second-degree murder and first-degree assault in the death of 32-year-old Richard Martinez, who suffered fatal injuries in a fight around 1:30 a.m. Nov. 3 near the intersection of Main and Sixth streets in Grand Junction.

According to an arrest affidavit, Mbawa and Martinez were both inside Quincy Bar, 609 Main St., and were among a group of people involved in an altercation at the bar that continued outside.


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