Update: Naeschylus Vinzant Wasn't Armed When Killed by Aurora Cops
A family photo of Naeschylus Vinzant shared with Fox31. Additional photos, plus a video and more below.
Update: Yesterday, we told you about the many unanswered questions related to the officer-involved shooting of a man near Laredo Elementary School in Aurora on Friday, March 6.
Some of the answers have finally started trickling in. For instance, the man has now been identified as Naeschylus Vinzant, a 37-year-old with a record of criminal offenses dating back more than twenty years.
Yet we still don't know why police chose to shoot Vinzant in broad daylight in such a public setting.
Especially since he wasn't armed at the time.
Here's the timeline of events provided by the Aurora Police Department:
• On March 6th the Fugitive Apprehension and Surveillance Team (FAAST) was contacted by the Colorado Department of Corrections Fugitive Unit stating they needed assistance with the surveillance of a 37 year old African American male named Naeschylus Vinzant (DOB: 07/23/1977).
• Mr. Vinzant was wanted by the Department of Corrections for cutting off his GPS ankle monitor. It was also determined that the subject was wanted by Aurora Police Detectives for assault, robbery, kidnapping and domestic violence charges.
• Due to Mr. Vinzant’s past violent history, the FAST Team requested the assistance of the Aurora SWAT Team to take him into custody.
• Through a variety of surveillance techniques, Mr. Vinzant was located walking in the 1300 Block of North Laredo Street.
• Members of the SWAT Team attempted to take Mr. Vinzant into custody, at which time one shot was fired and Mr Vinzant was struck once in the chest. On scene SWAT paramedics immediately began life-saving efforts. He was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injury.
• No weapon was located on Mr. Vinzant or at the scene.
• The scene was immediately secured and Detectives from the Major Crimes Unit responded to the location of the shooting as did Chief of Police Metz and Deputy Chief Jones.
• Major Crimes Unit Detectives worked throughout the weekend and continue to investigate the incident. We have been working closely with the District Attorney’s Office for the 18th Judicial District from the beginning and continue to do so.
• Members from the department’s Victim Services Unit also reached out to the family of Mr. Vinzant to provide whatever assistance they could.
• Due to a conflict related to another case, the District Attorney for the 18th Judicial District has asked the District Attorney for the 1st Judicial District to review and make recommendation as about the case once the investigation has been completed by the Major Crimes Unit.
Nowhere in this rundown is it stated what prompted a trigger to be pulled, and in a press conference yesterday, newly appointed Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz didn't provide a rationale.
Indeed, he said the specific officer had not yet been questioned in the case — an astonishing statement given that more than three full days had passed by the time of Metz's press conference.
Presumably, jurisdictional matters are among the reasons for this delay. But Metz also mentioned the increased scrutiny on officer-involved shootings not just in Colorado, but across the country.
This suggests that Aurora is being extremely cautious for fear of the case becoming an even bigger story.
Whatever the case, Vinzant is hardly a poster child for lawful behavior.
As pointed out by 7News, the father of seven's troubles with the law started way back in 1994 and included busts for trespassing, assault, fraud, wiretapping, drugs, car theft, possessing a weapon as a felon and attempted homicide. His most recent arrest, for domestic violence and a parole violation, took place in August 2014.
Even Vizant's ex-wife, Bernadette, admitted that claims he'd removed his ankle monitor "sound like Naeschylus ...he felt trapped" during an interview with Fox31.
But she also stresses that "something has to be done" in regard to the case, and she hopes the community will keep pressing the police for an explanation about what went down on North Laredo Street last week.
Look below to see one of Vizant's booking photos, the aforementioned Fox31 report and an Aurora Police Department video of the complete press conference about the shooting, followed by our previous coverage.
Aurora Police Department
Original post, 5:34 a.m. March 9: At a time when there's more scrutiny than ever on police shootings in metro Denver, it's more than a little surprising how little information has been released about the killing of a man near Laredo Elementary School in Aurora.
Days after the man was gunned down by officers in broad daylight, there are far more questions than answers.
Among the information not yet provided: the name of the man, the nature of his latest offense and whether or not he was armed at the time he was shot to death.
Additionally, the most recent release from the Aurora Police Department eschewed revelations in favor of a plea for patience.
A photo of Laredo Elementary from the school's Facebook page.
The initial info from the APD was basic, especially given the high-profile nature of what went down.
On March 6, the department notes that officers were on the lookout for a "male suspect who was wanted for kidnapping and robbery."
Whether these were fresh crimes or vintage ones has not yet been divulged. However, the cops considered him to be armed and dangerous.
The suspect is said to have been located at around 1:15 p.m. on the 16200 block of East 12th Avenue in Aurora.
The area is captured in the following interactive graphic. If you have problems seeing the image, click "View Larger Map."
The location is only a short walk from Laredo Elementary, which was in session at the time.
The suspect was on foot, the APD notes — and while attempting to take him into custody, the release confirms that he was shot.
Why? That part of the story remains a mystery at this writing. Thus far, we don't know if the man had a weapon, and if so, what kind.
The APD has confirmed that life-saving measures were attempted at the scene prior to the suspect being transported to an area hospital.
Nonetheless, the man was declared dead shortly thereafter.
No officers were injured during the incident — and thus far, the Arapahoe County coroner's office has not shared the dead man's identity.
Investigators remains on the scene throughout most of Friday, but the department didn't have anything else official to say until late afternoon on Sunday.
The second release begins:
The Aurora Police Department understands that the public and media have questions about the officer involved shooting that occurred on Friday March 6th, 2015. Our detectives are actively working on this investigation. We are also in communication with the Arapahoe County District Attorney's Office. At this time not all involved parties have been available for interviews.
Also included is a quote from Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz, who's only been on the job for a matter of weeks.
"There is still important information to obtain," Metz is quoted as saying. "To ensure a full and thorough investigation for all the parties involved, we must be judicious in preventing the release of information that could jeopardize the investigation. It is our intent to release information as soon as we can."
Some children from Laredo were reportedly driven to their parents by police officers.
The release adds: "The APD is committed to making certain that any information we release, about any case, is factual and accurate. We will work diligently to make sure that we keep you updated on the developments of the investigation as they arise."
That's good to know. But the relative silence to date can't be reassuring to the parents of Laredo students (who are said to have never been in danger) or residents of the community as a whole.
Look below to see a 7News report from the scene.Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
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