An enraged knife-wielding man in Boulder, Colo., was split-seconds away from stabbing a police officer when the officer shot him three times with an assault rifle, according to police accounts.
But the father of Michael Habay, who died after being shot by 14-year Boulder Police veteran and SWAT team officer Vincent Gallerani, says his son was murdered.
“He had knives, they had rifles,” William Habay told Boulder’s Daily Camera newspaper. “That’s murder.”
The elder Habay would not offer further comment on the shooting to the paper.
One of the knives allegedly used by Habay is seen in the picture above, released Monday by Boulder police.
The incident unfolded, according the police account, like this: at about 7:30 that morning, police fielded a 911 call from the mother of 41-year-old Kirsten Stenseng, who was scared that Stenseng was in danger from Habay, her boyfriend.
But when police showed up at the 3009 Madison St. apartment building, Stenseng told them there was no problem. She appeared to be alone at the time.
About five hours later, however, cops got another call. This one came from a neighbor who said that Habay was going crazy, stabbing a wooden post outside the building with a large knife, as well as throwing objects out of his apartment and yelling. The neighbor was also concerned for the safety of Stenseng.
Police sent a four-officer team back to the apartment. When they forced their way into the place, Habay charged at them, brandishing two knives held high in a stabbing position. He kept coming despite police orders to “get down” and “drop the knife.”
Habay was clad in gear police called “body armor,” of the type used in paintball games or for dirt bike riding. The outfit included shoulder pads, shin guards, chest and elbow padding.
One SWAT officer, Nick Smetzer, batted Habay away with his ballistic shield. But Habay kept attacking, this time advancing on Gallerani.
Gallerani thought that Smetzer had been injured and that he himself would be stabbed by Habay if he did not take action, police say,
Gallerni then fired at Habay three times at close range, striking the attacking man with two bullets.
Stenseng was in a neighbor’s apartment out of harm’s way at the time of the shooting.
Habay had a criminal record in Colorado with multiple arrests going back to 2006. He was arrested earlier this year on charges of felony menacing and harassment.
The incident was the first police shooting in Boulder since 2008.
Sources: Daily Camera, The Denver Channel, Westword