This image provided by Denver Police Department shows police body-worn camera video footage of a police encounter with Brandon Cole, on Aug. 5, 2023 in Denver. Investigators say the police officer fatally shot Cole, who she thought was armed with a knife, when he lunged at her, but he was holding only a black marker. (Denver Police Department via AP)

A Denver police officer fatally shot a man who lunged at her with what she thought was a knife. It turned out to be a black marker, investigators said.

Body-worn camera video shows the suspect, Brandon Cole, 36, raising the marker to chest level as he closed in on the officer just before she fired two shots at him.

“This is a tremendous tragedy,” Chief Ron Thomas said during a news conference Monday. The Denver District Attorney’s Office will review the legality of the shooting.

A neighbor had called 911 on Aug. 5 to report potential domestic violence involving Cole, his wife and his teenage son, The Denver Post reported. Police Cmdr. Matt Clark said Monday that the caller reported that the woman may have been pushed out of her wheelchair, and that Cole was “going after” his son.

When officers arrived, the woman was sitting on the street next to a wheelchair and told an officer, “Don’t, don’t pull your gun out on my husband, please,” the body camera recording showed.


Cole then started shouting and was shot with a stun gun when he walked toward one of the officers. Investigators said they believe only one probe from the stun gun struck Cole and did not prevent him from charging the other officer, who shot and killed him.

A woman and a young child who were directly behind Cole in the video were not injured. They were not involved in the initial call to police.

“You can see in the video that when she finally deploys her duty weapon, the person is so close to her that the view of the young child and other person are not even clear to her,” Thomas said. “Certainly that was a consideration, but there was not much time to act before she was overrun by that individual.”

The name of the officer who shot Cole has not been released. She’s been with the police department since 2019 and has not been involved in any other shootings.