First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King gives update on Officer Vakoff Murder Investigation

Suspect Sonny Almanza held without bail, advisement hearing set for Sept. 20; CIRT team investigation ongoing

Rylee Dunn
rdunn@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 9/14/22

First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King released a statement Sept. 14 on the status of the investigation into Arvada Police Officer Dillon Vakoff's Sept. 11 murder, stating that suspect Sonny Almanza has been advised of the charges he faces and will be held without bond, and that the First Judicial Critical Incident Response Team is investigating the murder. 

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First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King gives update on Officer Vakoff Murder Investigation

Suspect Sonny Almanza held without bail, advisement hearing set for Sept. 20; CIRT team investigation ongoing

Posted

First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King released a statement Sept. 14 on the status of the investigation into Arvada Police Officer Dillon Vakoff's Sept. 11 murder, stating that suspect Sonny Almanza has been advised of the charges he faces and will be held without bond, and that the First Judicial Critical Incident Response Team is investigating the use of force by Officer Vakoff in the incident. 

Officer Vakoff was killed while responding to a large familial disturbance on Sept. 11. Almanza was arrested and transported to a local hospital shortly thereafter, where he was treated for at least one gunshot wound incurred during the incident. 

At a press conference earlier this week, Arvada Police Chief Link Strate said that gunfire had broken out before Vakoff and another APD officer responded and continued once they arrived. One female victim was shot in the exchange and is expected to survive. Almanza and Vakoff also incurred gunshot wounds. 

King's statement said that Almanza appeared before the Jefferson County Court on Sept. 14 and was advised of the arrest charges, which include First Degree Murder of a Peace Officer, Attempt to Commit Murder in the First Degree, Possession of a Weapon by a Previous Offender and two counts of Child Abuse. Almanza is being held without bond. 

The statement also said that King will determine and file formal charges against Almanza next week, and Almanza will be advised of those charges on Sept. 20. 

An investigation by the First Judicial District Critical Incident Response Team into Vakoff's actions are ongoing, as is standard procedure for cases that involve deadly force used by a law enforcement officer. Arvada Police officers are not involved in the CRIT team investigation but are investigating Vakoff's murder. 

King's statement also said that "to protect the integrity of the investigation and to ensure that the defendant can receive a fair trial," additional details of the case will not be released at this time. 

Vakoff was an Arvada resident and graduate of Ralston Valley High School in Arvada. Vakoff had been with APD since 2019 and was training to be a SWAT officer, according to Arvada Police Chief Link Strate. 

His death is the second line of duty fatality the Arvada Police Department has suffered in the last 15 months, the first being the death of Officer Gordon Beesley in the 2021 Olde Town Arvada Shooting.

The CRIT team investigated that incident as well, and King did not press charges against Arvada Police Officer Kraig Brownlow, who was determined to have shot civilian Johnny Hurley in his response to the incident. 

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