DPD chief promises transparency as police investigate 2 shootings involving officers

Denver Chief of Police Robert White.

Denver Chief of Police Robert White.

DENVER — Denver’s police chief promised transparency as his department investigates two officer-involved shootings that lead to the deaths of two suspects Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters Thursday morning, White said that anytime a suspect is killed, “That’s not a good day as far as I’m concerned.”

White released some additional information about the two unrelated shootings.

The first shooting happened around 2:45 p.m. during an undercover drug sting at Overland Pond Park.

White said an undercover officer had made a drug purchase from Joseph Valverde, 33, and uniformed officers were moving into arrest him.

Valverde “produced” a gun, White said, and was shot by one of the officers multiple times. He died at the hospital.

“Whether or not he pointed it, all that will be determined in the investigation,” White said.

The second shooting happened around 6 p.m. when a police fugitive team had been following 20-year-old Ryan Ronquillo who was in a stolen car.

Officers pinned his vehicle in the parking lot of a funeral home on Tejon Street, White said.

Ronquillo put his car in reverse and backed up, hitting an officer and her car.

She and another officer fired at Ronquillo, who tried to get away by then driving forward. In the process he hit two other vehicles, police said.

Two more officers opened fire, White said, and one of them hit Ronquillo, killing him.

White estimated that about 12 shots had been fired by officers during the incident.

The district attorney and DPD will investigate both shooting incidents to determine if the officers followed state laws and police policy. White said both officers were placed on administrative leave, which is standard practice in officer-involved shootings.

“As the Chief of Police, I want you to know that I strongly believe in transparency,” White said in a letter released Thursday afternoon. “The Denver Police Department, Denver District Attorney and Office of the Independent Monitor always review critical incidents and evaluate the actions of involved officers. These findings will be reported to you when the investigation is complete.”

White said he could not remember a day in his career when there had been two officer-involved shootings in one day.

“I’ve been doing this a long time over many different police departments,” White said. “It’s the first incident I can remember of two on the same day.”