On Aug. 20, a federal jury decided in favor of a police officer who killed a suspect while carrying out a SWAT raid in Thornton. Ending a seven-day trial in Denver, the jury found the plaintiffs failed to prove James Strong’s death during a gun battle in his home was the result of excessive force.
The case dug into issues of qualified immunity and whether officers acted reasonably in continuing to shoot at a suspect. The attorney rep- resenting Strong’s estate said there are issues ripe for appeal regarding the jury instructions on the excessive force claims, though no decision has been made yet to take the case further. Strong was suspected of dealing cocaine when a SWAT team executed a no-knock search warrant on his home in May 2015. The North Metro Task Force obtained the warrant, and based on information that he was a known member of the Bloods street gang who possessed several firearms and had a violent conviction.
Strong allegedly didn’t know it was police who were entering his home, and he fired on an officer, wounding him. A gun battle ensued, and Strong was shot more than 20 times and was killed. The plaintiffs claimed police continued shooting Strong after he’d been incapacitated, which they alleged was a constitutional rights violation that led to his death.