At last count, there have been nearly fifty officer-involved shootings in Colorado thus far in 2018, including ten during August alone. But no police department in the state has been impacted more greatly than the one in Aurora. Since January 1, APD officers have taken part in eight shootings, tying the city's mark for the most incidents of this type in the past half-decade with more than three months left in the year.
But while Aurora Police Department public information officer Crystal McCoy expresses concern over the rising number of shootings, she argues that attacking the problem head-on is difficult.
"Each of these incidents is unique," McCoy says. "It's not like the officers are confronting the same situation over and over again. Otherwise, we might be able to see a pattern. But they are different in the types of crises that are happening. Some are domestic, some involve mental health, some deal with drug and alcohol abuse. And in each of them, our officers are doing their job and applying the things they've learned — the techniques and tactics to de-escalate the situations the best they can when it's appropriate."
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Below, we've included the Aurora Police Department accounts about seven of the eight police shootings in 2018 to date. The APD didn't issue a release about one incident, from July 28; while the shooting involved an Aurora officer, it actually took place in Adams County, whose sheriff's office didn't share an account, either.
In the meantime, here's a quick summary of all eight incidents — at least three of which have already been deemed justified by prosecutors with either the 17th or 18th judicial districts.
1. February 10, 2018: Troy Jacques was killed by an Aurora police officer near the intersection of East Smoky Hill Road and South Chambers Road. Click to read the 18th Judicial District DA's Office decision letter clearing the involved officer of wrongdoing.
2. April 9, 2018: Tyrell Jones was shot multiple times by Aurora police officers not far from the intersection of East Smith Road and North Chambers Road but survived. Click to read the 17th Judicial District DA's office decision letter clearing the involved officer of wrongdoing.
3. June 27, 2018: Joey Bronson was killed by an Aurora police officer outside the Biltmore Motel, at 8900 East Colfax. Click to read the 18th Judicial District DA's office decision letter clearing the involved officer of wrongdoing.
4. June 29: Antonio Sanchez was killed by an Aurora police officer at 14401 East 6th Avenue, the address of a gas station.
5. July 28, 2018: An Aurora police officer shot and killed an unidentified man said to be behind the wheel of a stolen truck. The incident took place in Adams County, on the 2500 block of West 65th Avenue.
6. July 30, 2018: Richard "Gary" Black was shot and killed by an Aurora police officer after Black's home had been invaded by a naked intruder. One of the officers involved in this incident also took part in the June 27 shooting that killed Joey Bronson.
7. August 31, 2018: An unidentified suspect was shot during an exchange of gunfire in which an Aurora police officer was also wounded, The gunfire broke out in the vicinity of the Paris Street alley close to the 1900 block of Peoria Street.
8. September 5, 2018: A thus-far-unnamed male was shot by an Aurora police officer on the 2200 block of North Fairplay Street. He survived.
This bloodshed represents a reversal of a downward trend when it comes to Aurora police officers involved in shootings over the past five years. In 2014, four such incidents took place, but the total doubled to eight in 2015. The next two years, though, the number of shootings decreased. Six happened in 2016 and three in 2017 before ratcheting back up in 2018 despite what APD spokesperson McCoy characterizes as ongoing and multifaceted efforts to resolve situations peacefully.
"We've always had training in place for de-escalation tactics and verbal de-escalation, which we would reference as 'verbal judo' before there was a term for it," she notes. "It's really nothing new in police training. It's been going on for years. There's even mandatory training through Colorado POST [Peace Officer Standards and Training]. Recruits have been getting it through the academies, and officers get it on an annual basis. And this isn't only for officer-involved shootings. We use this technique to communicate with people for all sorts of things."
To date, no new or tweaked training program has been put in place to deal with Aurora's increase in officer-involved shootings this year. But McCoy points out that "every time we have one of these incidents, we have a debrief about what we can do better and if we did it the way we were trained to do it. We turn a critical eye on every incident so we can learn from it. We're constantly looking at how we're approaching things and how we can do things better, whether it's officer-involved shootings or anything else."
Still, she concedes, "we don't have that one thing we know is causing it. I know everybody wants an explanation, and we'd appreciate an explanation, too. But all we know is that our officers are being confronted with more violence lately, and they're applying their training the best they can in every different situation."
Here are the eight Aurora Police Department accounts of officer-involved shootings in the community during 2018, with links allowing access to additional information, including videos of press conferences.
The investigation has revealed that the incident began on February 9th (the night before the shooting) at 9:13 p.m. with a reported felony menacing at I-225 and East Mississippi Avenue. In this incident, the subject pointed a handgun at the reporting party. The reporting party described an armed individual and a suspect vehicle. The officers that responded were unable to locate the armed subject or vehicle and a report was taken.
On February 10th, at 11:27 p.m. the same officers who had taken the report of the felony menacing from the day before were in the area of East Smoky Hill Road and South Chambers Road when they observed the suspect vehicle from the felony menacing. Officers initiated a traffic stop at which time the driver, who fit the description from the felony menacing, exited the vehicle and advanced towards the officers. The subject refused the verbal orders given by the officers. As officers continued to give orders, the subject began returning to the vehicle, ignoring the officers' commands. As an officer attempted to go hands-on with the subject, the subject produced a handgun and the officer discharged their duty weapon striking the subject.
At approximately 8:00 p.m. on April 9, 2018, a suspect was located inside a taxi cab near the Crossland Hotel, located near East 38th Avenue and North Chambers Road. The said suspect, an adult male, was wanted by police in the City of Federal Heights for attempted murder involving a firearm. That incident occurred just a day prior on April 8, 2018. Having this information, members of the APD’s Strategic Response Team (SRT) and the Fugitive Apprehension and Surveillance Team (FAST) began actively attempting to locate the suspect, as he was believed to pose a serious threat to the community.
These officers had information that the suspect was in a taxi cab as a passenger. The suspect would not allow the driver of the taxi cab to exit the cab and ordered the driver at gunpoint to keep driving. The driver of the taxi cab came to a stop at a red light at East Smith Road and North Chambers Road. The driver fled the taxi, leaving the wanted subject in the back seat, where he was now the sole occupant of the vehicle.
Officers from SRT, who were in unmarked vehicles, were adjacent to the taxi when it stopped for the red light. Upon seeing the taxi driver flee from the vehicle, they recognized an opportunity to take the subject into custody with minimal danger to the general public. As officers moved up to the vehicle to take the suspect into custody, shots were fired. Prior to shots being fired, warnings were given by officers. From the course of the investigation, it appears that the suspect fired at officers. The suspect was found to be armed with a handgun.
The suspect sustained injuries at the scene and immediately received medical treatment from an Aurora SWAT paramedic who was at the scene. The suspect was transported to an area hospital.
One officer, a 26-year law enforcement veteran, was placed on paid administrative leave after firing his weapon. This is the officer’s first officer-involved shooting.
This morning [June 27], officers responded to the 8900 block of East Colfax Avenue around 12:30 A.M. to investigate a report of shots fired where a person was allegedly menaced with a gun. Officers received a very specific suspect description and began to search the area for the suspect. Just moments later during this search, officers located a subject on the very same block matching the distinctive description of the suspect.
As officers attempted to contact the suspect, he fled on foot through the parking lot of the Biltmore Motel, located at 8900 East Colfax Avenue. A foot chase ensued and during this foot chase, officers observed that the male was armed with a gun. They gave verbal orders for the suspect to drop the gun multiple times prior to the officer firing his weapon.
The subject ran around a blind corner, stopped and was waiting as officers came around the corner. Officers gave more orders for the suspect to drop the gun before shots were fired. Subsequently, a handgun was found in possession of the suspect at the scene.
Officers immediately rendered aid to the subject to include the application of tourniquets and immediately contacted AFD/EMS. The subject was transported to a local hospital where he remained in serious condition for some time until he unfortunately succumbed to his injuries.
This investigation has revealed that the suspect was being sought for attempted murder in the first degree in regard to a shooting that occurred on June 28, 2018, in which an adult male was shot two times. On June 29, 2018, the male suspect was observed inside a Nissan sedan by Aurora police officers. A traffic stop on that car was initiated at approximately South Peoria Street and East Alameda Avenue. The car appeared to pull over near the Highline ball fields, located at 50 South Peoria Street.
The suspect then began to flee the traffic stop at a high rate of speed and was recklessly driving through the ball fields, where youth softball teams were present and actively playing softball. At this point, the suspect was observed by an independent witness driving while also holding a handgun.
A pursuit was initiated northbound through the ball fields with lights and sirens activated. The pursuit lasted for several minutes and eventually ended in the parking lot of the gas station located at 14401 East 6th Avenue. A Precision Immobilization Technique (PIT) was executed for the safety of the public to end the pursuit. Officers were able to block the suspects’ car in the parking lot. As the suspect was still seated inside the vehicle, he produced a handgun and pointed it in the direction of officers. Three officers subsequently fired their weapons. Officers on scene immediately began rendering aid to the suspect to include CPR. Despite providing life saving measures to the suspect, he later died at the scene.
On July 30, 2018, at approximately 1:29 a.m., the Aurora Public Safety Dispatch Center (PSDC) received multiple 911 calls advising there was a disturbance in the area of North Iola Street and East Montview Boulevard.
The PSDC received another 911 call from an adult female at 10609 East Montview Boulevard advising an adult male intruder was breaking into her home.
Aurora Police Officers arrived to a very chaotic and violent scene at 10609 East Montview Boulevard. On-scene officers heard gunshots fired from inside the home and encountered an armed adult male. An officer discharged his firearm, striking the armed male, who was transported to the hospital, where he later succumbed to his injuries.
The officers then cleared the home to ensure the scene was safe. Inside, officers found an injured juvenile and the deceased adult male intruder on the bathroom floor. The injured juvenile was later transported to a local hospital for serious, but non-life-threatening injuries caused by the deceased intruder.
Further investigation revealed the armed male encountered by the officer was a resident of the home. Our preliminary investigation has revealed the deceased intruder on the bathroom floor was fatally shot by the armed adult male resident....
The involved officer has been placed on administrative reassignment with pay as per Aurora Police Department policy....
This is a very heartbreaking and tragic situation for everyone involved. We are providing assistance through our victim advocates to help the family of the deceased resident through this very difficult time.
On August 31, 2018, at approximately 5:17 p.m., officers with the Aurora Police Department responded to a reported physical dispute in the 1900 block of Peoria Street.
While conducting an investigation, shots were heard coming from the 1900 block of the Peoria Street/Paris Street alley. Officers responded to the area where shots were coming from and located multiple people lying on the ground. One of the individuals was a juvenile and all were suffering from apparent gunshot wounds.
An officer then confronted an armed suspect and gunfire was exchanged between the suspect and the officer, which resulted in the officer and suspect being shot.
The officer, suspect and others were all transported to local hospitals for treatment. The officer is in good condition and was wearing a bullet resistant vest, which saved the officer from sustaining a life threatening injury.
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On September 5, 2018, at approximately 5:15 p.m., officers with the Aurora Police Department Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team were in the 2200 block of North Fairplay Street in an attempt to make contact with a wanted suspect.
The SWAT team was assisting district detectives in locating an adult male suspect who was wanted for domestic violence-related criminal charges.
SWAT officers arrived in the area and contact was made with the wanted male suspect, who was armed. One officer discharged their firearm, striking the suspect. First aid was immediately rendered to the suspect by a SWAT Medic, and he was transported to a local hospital....
No officers were injured during this incident. The involved officer will be placed on administrative assignment with pay, per Aurora Police Department policy.