A Colorado district attorney has announced that no charges will be filed against a Colorado State Patrol trooper who shot a transgender woman in May.
Twenty-first Judicial District Attorney Dan Rubenstein made the announcement following an investigation into the May 9 shooting, in which trooper Jason Wade shot and killed 33-year-old Jayne Thompson after Thompson allegedly ran at Wade with a knife.
According to the investigation, Wade came into contact with Thompson early in the morning when he saw her standing motionless and thought she might be a mannequin.
Later in the day, the Colorado State Patrol received a report of a person standing motionless on a local highway for two hours, reports The Daily Sentinel, a Grand Junction-based newspaper.
Wade responded to the scene, and requested backup. He approached Thompson and introduced himself, but she didn’t respond, and was staring into the distance with a “1,000-yard stare” in his eyes. After a slight pause, Thompson reached for a knife.
Wade drew his handgun and ordered her to drop the knife, when she reportedly lunged at him. Wade ordered Thompson to get on the ground several times as Thompson ran in a circle around Wade before charging at the trooper with the knife pointing at him. Wade then shot Thompson three or four times, killing her.
Rubinstein said that he looked at video from four separate sources, as well as dash camera audio and witness interviews during the investigation, and determined that Wade had been justified in using force to defend himself because he believed he was in imminent danger.
Rubenstein said that any jury would conclude that someone might believe they are in imminent danger if another person runs at them with a knife out.
He added that Thompson would have faced charges of felony assault, attempted assault, and menacing charges if she had survived the shooting.
The Human Rights Campaign issued a statement mourning Thompson’s death, noting that she was — and continues to be — misgendered by police and in the press.
“In reading about the fatal shooting of Jayne Thompson by a Colorado State Trooper, two things become clear,” Tori Cooper, HRC’s director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative, said in a statement. “First, it is appalling that it took the media over a month to correctly identify Jayne with her correct name and pronouns. Transgender and gender non-conforming people deserve dignity in death as well as life. Secondly, it is clear that Jayne was in crisis when she was approached by Colorado State Patrol. When members of the community need help, the expectation is to protect and serve and not to be killed.”
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