Body Cam Shows Black Man With Arms Raised Before Aurora Cop Shoots Him | Westword

"It Looked Like a Hit": Body Cam Footage Shows Unarmed Black Man Shot by Aurora Police

The family of Kilyn Lewis wants justice for what they say was a "cold-blooded murder."
Kilyn Lewis, 37, seen on body cam video with his arms raised and a cell phone in his hand before being shot by an Aurora SWAT officer.
Kilyn Lewis, 37, seen on body cam video with his arms raised and a cell phone in his hand before being shot by an Aurora SWAT officer. Aurora Police Department
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Body camera footage released by the Aurora Police Department Thursday, June 20, shows Kilyn Lewis — a 37-year-old Black man and father of two suspected of attempted murder — being fatally shot by an officer last month with both arms raised and a cell phone in his hand.

Community leaders and his loved ones are calling the killing "another unarmed Black man's murder" at the hands of Aurora PD.

"I don't have nothing!" Lewis can be heard screaming on video after he's shot once in the stomach by APD SWAT Officer Michael Dieck, who was among a group of cops looking to arrest Lewis on charges of attempted first-degree murder on May 23.

"I don't have nothing!" Lewis repeats, while surrounded by the heavily armed SWAT officers, none of whom — other than Dieck — fired shots.

Lewis's father, Robert Lewis Jr., tells Westword that when he viewed the body cam footage for the first and only time, it felt like he was watching an execution.

"It looked like a hit," Robert says. "Before the officer got out of the truck, he must've known he was going to shoot him." 
A convict with multiple priors, Lewis had been suspected of committing a shooting near the intersection of 48th Avenue and Colorado Boulevard on May 5 that left a random bystander hospitalized with multiple gunshot wounds. He died of his injuries days after being shot by police and was never arrested; no further announcements related to the May 5 shooting have been made by APD.

Lewis was surveilled by police for at least two days before SWAT was called in to make contact due to the "high-risk nature of the warrant," according to APD Chief Heather Morris, who appeared in a video briefing that accompanied the release of the body cam footage this morning.

"Any loss of life is a tragedy for an individual's family — our community — and the officers involved, no matter the circumstances," Morris said in a statement. "Critical incidents like these are difficult to watch. They involve real people, people with family and friends who love them. I know that nothing I say can ease the pain this family is feeling. What I can do is ensure that a complete and thorough investigation is conducted and share those findings with our community. We are committed to transparency, and we will always seek ways to improve how we serve the people of Aurora.”

In the body cam video, SWAT officers can be seen confronting Lewis at an apartment complex at 384 South Ironton Street near Expo Park while he is exiting a red Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Lewis can be seen walking toward the driver's side of the car from the rear of the vehicle, with the trunk open, as police make contact with him. Lewis's attorneys say he was working on his car's stereo system at the time.

"Police officers, on the ground! On the ground! Get on the ground!" Dieck and other cops can be heard shouting on video at Lewis.

"I'm telling you, dude! On the ground!" Dieck says.

Moments before being shot, Lewis appears to reach into the front-left pocket of his pants, which are sagging, to pull something out in an effort to show it to cops. He can also be seen reaching toward his backside with his right hand at the same time, either to grab his cell phone out of the back right pocket or front right pocket, which appears to be sagging back.

Either way, Lewis clearly raises a phone up — along with both of his arms — moments before Dieck opens fire on him.

"[He] wasn't no angel, but he didn't deserve to die like that," Robert says of his son.

Gathered at the law offices of Rathod Mohamedbhai on Thursday, Robert and other people close to Lewis, including his wife and mother, held a press conference alongside newly obtained legal counsel to address the body cam video and how they felt. 
click to enlarge People gathered around for a press conference.
Kilyn Lewis's father, mother, wife and brother were all in attendance Thursday for the press conference about his shooting death.
Chris Perez

"Kilyn had his life ripped a single devastating shot," his mother, LaRonda Jones, told those in attendance. "I can only visualize my son lying helpless on the ground, with APD standing over him as he bled out."

"It's just pain every day," Robert tells Westword after the press conference, smoking a cigarette with tears in his eyes. 

"He was my guy. I taught him how to fish, [about] the music business. He was a smart, cool dude. Whenever he was around, we'd usually just go to the park, go fishing and, you know, just enjoy life."

Robert takes issue with the portrait being painted of his son by APD and "the media," he says, pointing specifically to reports and statements from the police about Lewis's criminal history.

The Aurora husband and father has multiple arrests on his record for robbery, negligent child abuse causing serious injury, trespassing and attempting to illegally discharge a firearm, but his family and their lawyers note that he hadn't been in trouble since 2014, when he pleaded guilty to the trespassing charge.

"I'm fed up with the lies that are being told," Robert says. "It's a bunch of bullshit. They know they did wrong."

Anndrec Lewis, Lewis's wife, said during the press conference that she and the rest of his family won't let Aurora police forget Kilyn's name or try to move on from what happened the way they have with other police-involved deaths, like that of Elijah McClain and Naeschylus Carter Vinzant.

Lewis's loved ones plan to take legal action against the department and are calling on the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office to criminally prosecute Dieck for the shooting.

"He took everything from me," Anndrec said.

Attorney Edward Hopkins Jr., now representing Lewis's family, told media on Thursday that the way APD released the footage was calculated and done with "spin."

"They're trying to garner sympathy from the public," Hopkins said after showing a portion of Chief Morris's video briefing where she describes the crime Lewis was suspected of committing. "'This guy, Kilyn Lewis, he was a bad guy. He didn't deserve the same level of justice that the rest of you are going to get. We had every right to take him out the way we did.' That type of circular logic works when people aren't paying attention," he added.

In total, APD officials released three clips from officer-worn body cameras, including Dieck's. Hopkins and Lewis's family claimed the police department had edited the original body cam video and were refusing to release it in its entirety. Aurora officials insist this is not the case.

"Contrary to assertions, the body-worn camera video APD released today was not edited," City of Aurora spokesman Ryan Luby says. "The three angles of the incident you watched are most of the video footage of the three angles of the incident that exist. Also, no such deadlines have passed to release all body-worn camera footage pursuant to applicable Colorado law."

An independent investigation has been launched by the 18th Judicial District's Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) to determine whether Dieck's actions were justified and complied with state law. Once the CIRT team finishes investigating, it will present its findings in a formal presentation to administrative leadership, according to the DA's office.

When it does, spokesperson Eric Ross says, District Attorney John Kellner will "thoroughly review the facts presented before making a charging decision." He notes that in some cases, CIRT findings may also be presented to a grand jury.

"We believe strongly in transparency, and we will provide further updates at the appropriate time," Ross says.

Robert says that while he and his family are seeking justice for what happened to his son, they feel his death and APD's response goes deeper than just one bad cop.  
click to enlarge Aurora police shooting victim Kilyn Lewis holding his sons in a photo.
Kilyn Lewis had two young children at the time of his death.
Chris Perez

"This has been going on too long, and there's just too much of it," Robert says, pointing to other incidents of police violence and shootings that have happened in Aurora. "We shouldn't have to keep going through this."

It had been a couple of months since Robert had last seen his son before he was killed, he says, noting how Kilyn liked to spend time with his own family. No matter how long they were apart, though, the two of them were always able to strike up a conversation and enjoy each other's company — something Robert wishes he could do right now.

"I'd tell him, 'Have a good time, brother,'" Robert says, crying. "I'd talk to him about life and what's going on in his life and how things are going. Have a cookout or something. We liked to grill — steak, ribs, chicken."

With both of Lewis's children still being young, Robert hopes to get more involved in their lives moving forward to keep their father's legacy alive and pass on their memories together.

"There's always a void in a kid's heart when they grow up without a father," he says. "Once things settle down, I'm going to try and see them more often."

Rallies are planned at 7 p.m. today, June 21, and at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 24, at the Aurora Municipal Center in protest of Lewis's shooting.
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