Jeffrey Musick shooting: DA rules cop justified in killing man armed with sword

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The autopsy report on Musick notes that he had "a history of paranoid-type schizophrenia with visual hallucinations, audio hallucinations, and homicidal ideation; and non-compliance with medications. The decedent [has] been noted in the past to become psychotic when non-compliant with his medications."

jeffrey musick clothes.jpg
Musick's ninja outfit.
Hence, a previous criminal history that includes arrests for menacing, carrying a concealed weapon, resisting arrest and second degree assault using what's described as "fluids" while in the custody of Sheridan Police. During his contacts with Denver police in 2011 and 2012, he was described using the following caution: "DRUG ABUSE, MENTALLY HANDICAPPED/DISTURBED/SUICIDAL."

Weighing all these factors, Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey offered a conclusion that begins like so:

This tragic incident brings focus to two recurrent issues in use of force events, both of which often lead to public misperceptions. The first is the rapidity with which the events may unfold. The second is the lethality of edged weapons. Officer Burnett arrived at what he at first believed would be a situation where he would be called upon to warn someone about campus policy. Within moments, he was attacked by an adversary armed with a sword who was able to close the distance between them and injury him severely. Officer Burnett attempted to retreat and reason with Musick, without success. He then drew and fired his pistol. He stopped firing immediately when the threat ceased. The incident -- from the time Officer Burnett advised dispatch he was contacting a party to the time shots were fired -- took less time than it would take the average American reader to read this paragraph.
As such, Morrissey determined that "based on a review of the totality of the facts developed in this investigation, we could not prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that it was unreasonable for Officer Burnett to fire the shots that caused Musick's death. He only used deadly force when it was necessary 'to defend' against the imminent deadly threat posed by Musick and his actions were clearly justified under Colorado law. Therefore, no criminal charges are fileable against Officer Musick for his conduct in his incident."

One question not answered in the report: Why was someone with Musick's condition and past actions roaming the streets rather than receiving the sort of care that he appears to have so desperately needed?

Look below to see a collection of Musick mug shots assembled by 9News, followed by Morrissey's decision letter.

jeffrey musick mugshot may 1999.jpg
May 1999.

jeffrey musick mugshot july 1999.jpg
July 1999.
Continue for more Jeffrey Musick booking photos and the Denver DA's office decision letter.

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I knew Jeffrey nearly 20 years ago. He was a friend of mine, whom I had lost touch with when I moved out of town. Jeffrey gave me my first Led Zeppelin album back in the late 80's. We had some good times together in the brief time I knew him. I don't remember much of his family, but I know he didn't have a lot of money and things were tough on him at times. I feel like this could have been handled in a different way. It's a horrible tragedy for everyone involved. I appreciate the sentiment of those who see him as not a punchline, but a human being who had a troubled life. Rest In Peace, Jeffrey.


How very sad for all parties involved. Musick was a habitual criminal offender with a psychiatric illness that should have been in an mental institution. The police in most states can take people like Musick to an mental institution instead of jail. A 72 hour Psych Hold is placed on offending criminal patients and it is the judge's determination to continue stay of or to release offender. The criminal, judicial, and psychiatric authorities involved were well aware of his criminal record and medical diagnosis which was especially dangerous without medication. A judicial determination would/could/should have kept Musick out of society minimizing risk to self and others. It seems its just a matter of  fines, court costs, and see ya later. And if patients with such conditions do start taking their medications and are allowed the privilege of returning to society then it should be conditional and supervisory. The police in Alabama can place a person on supervised probation subject to search of home and property without notice for a year for a DUI offense. How is it that such laws like that get on the books and are enforced but when it comes to repeat mental offenders or child molesters or other chronic physical abusers they are allowed complete freedom until more damage is done? Because its a matter of fines, court costs and see ya later, don't forget your cash or credit card! It makes no sense at all, yet it sadly, infuriatingly does if one is aware of who the Puppet Master is and his thematic hidden agenda of promoting chaos while appearing benevolent directed  on society's stage. We all play a part in this production, we all have been cast yet what is unique is we can decide our part. Release with no follow up serves nor protects anyone. Erroneous judgments pave way for chaos. Uncaring doctors are accessories to crimes. RIP Musick, may you float free and happy above your chains of mental anguish.

DonkeyHotay topcommenter

HipTip -- Don't bring a Ninja Sword to a Gun Fight ... unless you're living in an Ang Lee movie.


@JB33 Sorry to learn of your friends passing.

Did these cops even legitimately attempt to taze'

the young man before firing ?

Their badges enable them to murder w/o fear of

reprisal or accountability . The law does NOT apply to those w/ badges.

( See Patrick Sullivan ..... ) 

Had this occurred in Aurora, there would have been dozen of cops unloading their weapons w/ full disregard for the safety of the civilians shopping . This of course, followed by some kind ceremony honoring the officers for killing everyone before the suspect. We nearly had another James Holmes like, tragedy . If Musick had an additional pocket knife, that store would have been blown apart just as was done w/ the theater in Aurora


@DonkeyHotay I long for the day when I can read even one Westword story sans a DonkeyHotay comment. Attention Westword IT Dept: Ban this A-hole!! He's DESTROYING this otherwise excellent publication.Edit (5 minutes)


good point on the tazer gun approach! The James Holmes comment is unnecessary and not relevant though. unfortuantely u r right many in law enforcement believe and act as they are above the law, where is the accountability? the cops did not blow apart the theater, loose connections but at least your commmenting and have sentiment. take care. b safe.

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