Crime

Attorney Blasts Decision to Clear Cop Who Killed Hero Richard Gary Black

A screen capture from body-camera footage seconds after the shooting of homeowner Richard Gary Black.
A screen capture from body-camera footage seconds after the shooting of homeowner Richard Gary Black. Aurora Police Department via YouTube
The Aurora police officer who killed Richard Gary Black on July 30 moments after he'd saved his grandson from an attack by a crazed home invader has been cleared of wrongdoing by 17th Judicial District DA Dave Young. This determination is shocking to Siddhartha Rathod, the attorney who represents the Black family.

Rathod says it's too soon to determine if a wrongful-death lawsuit might be filed in the case, since "the family is still grieving, still mourning, still trying to process this information." But in his view, the shooting should never have taken place.

"Mr. Black is an American hero who died as a hero," Rathod stresses about the late military veteran. "He died saving his family, and right now, he should be playing with his grandkids on the zip line he built in his back yard."

The word Rathod uses to describe the way Black died? "Outrageous," in part because Officer Drew Limbaugh, the Aurora Police Department member who fired the fatal shot, had slain another man, Joey Bronson, just 33 days earlier. And while Limbaugh's actions in that incident were later deemed to have been justified, too, the matter was still under investigation when he responded to a call at the Black home.


The late Richard Gary Black. - FAMILY PHOTO
The late Richard Gary Black.
Family photo
DA Young's decision letter is accessible below, as is the document related to the Bronson gun-down. There are multiple accounts of what happened in the former, with the version shared by Chad Hayashi, Black's stepson, who lived at the residence, offering the most insight into how the actions of the intruder, Dajon Harper, led to tragedy.

Warning: The details may disturb some readers.

On the 30th, Hayashi told an investigator, his two children — a daughter, referred to as C.H., and a son, dubbed K.H. — were also staying at the Black family home. Everyone had gone to bed at around 11 p.m., with Hayashi sharing a room with C.H. and K.H. bedding down on the living room couch while Black and his wife, Jeanette, retired to their bedroom.

Some time later, Hayashi awoke to find a woman and man in the living room and the front door broken down. "My son is on drugs and has your baby," the woman said.

At that point, Hayashi looked toward the bathroom, which Black was trying to enter — and inside, he saw a completely naked Harper holding K.H. in a choke hold in the bathtub, which contained enough water to render both slick to the touch. K.H. was also naked, and Harper is said to have been behind him, "chewing" on his left ear.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts