DA: Officer justified in downtown shooting

A shooting in downtown Grand Junction last month involving a National Park Service officer was self-defense, District Attorney Pete Hautzinger said Wednesday.

Eugene Olivieri was shot once in the chest following a confrontation in the predawn hours of Nov. 28, outside a home in the 600 block of Gunnison Avenue.

In a letter sent Wednesday to Interim Grand Junction Police Chief John Camper, Hautzinger wrote that the Park Service officer’s actions were “measured, careful and responsible.”

“He used reasonable and appropriate amount of force in this situation in order to protect himself and his family from what he reasonably perceived to be a threat,” Hautzinger said.

Olivieri had a blood-alcohol level of 0.297 percent, more than three times Colorado’s legal limit for driving, when he allegedly tried to break down the front door at the National Park Service officer’s home around 1 a.m. on Nov. 28.

The officer yelled at the intruder to go away, saying he was calling police. The officer then ran to a bedroom where he called 911, before Olivieri allegedly again tried to force his way through the front door. The officer retrieved his service weapon, a 9 mm handgun.

Hautzinger’s letter said Olivieri tried entering the back door before the officer decided to confront him outside.

After initially refusing to comply with commands, Olivieri put his hands up and sat down in the grass. The officer repeatedly asked Olivieri who he was and what he wanted, but Olivieri responded with grunts, Hautzinger wrote.

While still waiting for Grand Junction police to arrive at the scene, Olivieri tried to stand up and the officer kicked him in the thigh to try to prevent Olivieri from standing. The officer then backed up to a position 10 feet away from Olivieri, who stood up and lunged toward the officer, “with both hands extended” toward the officer’s chest, Hautzinger wrote.

Olivieri was shot once.

The officer called 911 a second time to report the shooting. Olivieri was treated for a collapsed lung and injuries to his liver at St. Mary’s Hospital. He’s expected to recover from his injuries, Hautzinger wrote. Olivieri wasn’t listed Wednesday in St. Mary’s patient directory.

The officer’s elderly parents, wife and 7-year-old daughter all watched the incident unfold, and Hautzinger said their lives were “arguably endangered” as well.

“I see absolutely no likelihood of disproving self-defense,” he wrote. Hautzinger said he hasn’t decided whether Olivieri will face charges.

The self-defense finding was Hautzinger’s second in less than a week. Hautzinger last week concluded that 42-year-old Crystal Nash was shot nine times and killed in self-defense, following an alcohol-fueled confrontation with a man at a Pear Park home on Nov. 1.


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