Ex-Greenwood Village police officer convicted of manslaughter in teen’s death

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ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — Jurors Tuesday convicted a former Greenwood Village police officer of manslaughter in the killing of an Aurora teen in late 2021.

Adam Holen, 38, was on trial for second-degree murder, felony menacing and prohibited use of a weapon in the murder of 17-year-old Peyton Blitstein. The former officer confronted Blitstein and his friends the night of Nov. 24, 2021, for allegedly speeding through the neighborhood, and the two exchanged gunfire.

The jury had the option, however, of finding him guilty on the lesser included offense of manslaughter, which they ultimately did. He was acquitted of the felony menacing charge.

Holen, who was slumped forward with his head down as the verdict was read, exited the courtroom displaying a Bible with a large note in red letters citing John 13:7, “Jesus replied, ‘You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’”

The three-day trial largely hinged on who the jury believed was the “initial aggressor” in the incident. In closing arguments Friday that lasted about 90 minutes, prosecutors argued that “every single act of aggression is at the feet” of Holen, saying it was he who chose to confront the teens about their speeding with a gun in hand. Prosecutors also quoted Holen’s interview with detectives at the time of the shooting, in which he told them he had his pistol at “low ready” because the three teen boys were “flexing” on him.

The defense, on the other hand, argued that Holen didn’t pull his gun from his waist until after he saw Blitstein approaching with a gun and two other friends. The attorney said that “self-defense is ugly” but that “this is about as pristine a self-defense case as you’re ever going to get.”

During the exchange of gunfire, Holen was shot once and Blitstein was shot nine times, according to a forensic pathologist who testified in court. Doorbell camera footage captured the confrontation and shooting but it did not clearly show who fired their weapon first.

Police body cam footage shown in court at the beginning of the trial showed Holen saying, “I confronted them and I was like, ‘Why the f—k are you racing?!’” Holen was also heard saying, ‘Holy cow! That happened so fast. He pulled a pistol on me. Luckily, I had one on me and I returned fire.’”

In the same footage, he was also later heard saying, “And that’s why you carry. Oh my God. …. Good guy with a gun.”

Investigators said Holen, who had resigned from the Greenwood Village Police Department a few weeks before the deadly confrontation, was drunk at the time of the shooting. His blood alcohol level was roughly twice the legal limit.

Crime

Affidavit: Former officer was drunk at time of deadly shooting

5:45 PM, Dec 23, 2021

When police arrived at the scene, they found Blistein on the ground in the street as a woman was performing CPR on the teen as Holen stood nearby.

Because he had been shot in the hip, responding officers asked Holen for a statement.

At the time, Holen told police the driver of a red Toyota Scion had been racing around his neighborhood during the day and night. He confronted the driver and passengers and told them that children lived along the street and to slow down.

Out of nowhere, he said, “three dudes got out of the Toyota Scion, and surrounded him,” according to the arrest affidavit in the case, at which point he said he feared for his life, pulled his handgun and held it, pointed down.

He said one of the teens — later identified as Blitstein — pulled a firearm and shot him, so Holen returned fire with his Smith and Wesson Shield 9mm pistol, according to the arrest affidavit. He told police he likely emptied the magazine. The firearm held 11 rounds.

The teen was taken to a hospital in an ambulance and was pronounced deceased at 11:11 p.m. that night.

As deliberations began, jurors submitted two questions to the judge and attorneys: Whether they should consider Holen’s actions before leaving his truck and approaching the teens when considering the menacing charge, and if they could find Holen guilty of one charge but not guilty of the other in regards to second-degree murder and felony menacing. The judge said that the jury had decide both questions on their own.

Holen’s sentencing is scheduled for May 20 at 2:30 p.m.

Former Greenwood Village police officer found guilty in teen’s death


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