The man charged with causing Littleton Police Officer Kevin Denner’s death is free on $50,000 bond.
Jemal Abdelkader Dawed, 37, appeared in court with his attorney, Wazir-Ali Muhammad Al-Haqq, to be advised of his rights May 8. Through an interpreter, he said he understood them. He speaks Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia.
Dawed is charged with vehicular homicide, driving while under the influence of alcohol, careless driving and failure to yield the right of way. He was not injured in the crash. Lisa Pinto, spokesperson for the 18th Judicial District, said District Attorney George Brauchler will personally prosecute the case, though he was unavailable for the arraignment.
“I made a commitment when I came into this office that if a police officer is murdered or someone attempts to murder them, or kills them like (Englewood police officer) Jeremy Bitner, I am going to try to find a way to be involved in that case,” Brauchler said later that day. “I think that the men and women in blue deserve to have the weight of this office come to defend them on these things. I wish I could be on every single vehicular homicide. I wish I could be on every case where someone was hurt by a drunk driver. But if I have to draw the line somewhere, it’s going to be when one of the people that protects us is killed by criminal conduct.”
Police say Denner was off duty and riding his personal motorcycle at the intersection of Belleview Avenue and DeGaulle Street in Aurora on May 6 when he crashed into the Toyota that Dawed was driving.
“We believe the driver of the Toyota caused the accident by failing to yield the right of way when making a left turn,” Aurora police said in a statement on the day of the collision.
Prosecutor Brian Susioka took issue with the amount of Dawed’s bond, saying it was posted prior to a hearing without proper notice. He also expects pending blood tests to play a role in what charges are ultimately filed.
Susioka said Dawed originally lied to police about his address, and prosecutors have yet to determine his true residence, employment and immigration status.
“But I have no reason to believe he’s not here legally,” said Susioka, noting Dawed has a Colorado driver’s license.
Al-Haqq responded to questions from the Littleton Independent in an email the next day. He said Dawed is an American citizen and surrendered his passport to the bondsman when he posted the surety bond. He adds that Dawed has been employed at the same job for six years.
“Mr. Dawed is remorseful and sad about the accident and the pain the victim’s family is obviously suffering,” wrote Al-Haqq. “Mr. Dawed did not leave his home with the intention of having an accident. The accident was unforeseeable, and it deeply grieves Mr. Dawed that it happened. Mr. Dawed extends his prayers and concern to the grieving family of the accident victim.”
Magistrate Frank Moschetti set a bond hearing for May 10 and a date to file charges on May 24. He ordered Dawed to surrender his passport and to stay away from Denner’s wife, Kristin.
A Littleton police officer escorted people attending on behalf of the Denner family, and there were up to six sheriff’s deputies in the courtroom throughout the proceeding.