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A Weld County grand jury has cleared a LaSalle officer of criminal wrongdoing in the January shooting of an off-duty Adams County sheriff’s deputy.
The grand jury report filed Friday identified the LaSalle officer as Caroline Persichetti, who on Jan. 16 shot Adams County deputy Jesse Jenson following a high-speed chase on U.S. 85 in Weld County near Evans.
Persichetti was chasing Jenson and another driver, who also was speeding down the highway. The report does not explain what preceded the chase and why Jenson was involved in it. Jenson, who was driving a Toyota 4-Runner, ran the other driver who was in a Jeep Patriot, off the road.
Jenson’s autopsy report showed that he died of two gunshot wounds to the head, and it said he had a blood-alcohol level of 0.073. The legal limit for a DUI is 0.08. He also had fluoxetine, an antidepressant more commonly known as Prozac, in his system.
After hearing testimony about the shooting, the grand jury declined to charge Persichetti with manslaughter.
“In reviewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution, it is clear that Jesse Jenson drove recklessly and engaged in a car chase with the Jeep Patriot,” the report stated. “In this instance, it does not matter whether or not Jenson actually intended to hit the Patriot or any other car, it appeared to Officer Persichetti that he was driving in this manner.”
The report stated that Persichetti acted in self-defense when she shot Jenson.
Police first began pursuing the Jeep Patriot that was “driving in a reckless manner and forcing vehicles off the road,” the grand jury report stated.
Fort Lupton and Platteville police ended their pursuit before the two SUVs entered LaSalle, and Persichetti joined on the south end of town, the report said. She told the grand jury both SUVs were exceeding 90 mph.
Another LaSalle officer deployed sticks to stop the Jeep while on the north end of town, south of the Platte River bridge, according to the report. When the drivers reached the bridge, the Jeep hit the stop sticks.
The drivers continued going and the Toyota pulled next to the Jeep, swerving at the Jeep and forcing it onto the shoulder, according to the report.
“The actions made Officer Persichetti believe the occupants of the Jeep Patriot were victims of the aggressive driving,” the report stated.
The Jeep continued to accelerate, heading north on U.S. 85, and the Toyota stopped at U.S. 85 and 42nd Street. Jenson got of the Toyota and ignored commands from Persichetti to stop and get on the ground, according to her testimony before the grand jury.
“Jesse Jenson continued his advance toward Officer Persichetti in a manner in which his left hand was not visible,” the report stated.
Persichetti fired her gun and hit Jenson, saying she feared for her life as Jenson “aggressively approached.” Jenson was unarmed.