Update: Aurora Pays $2.6M to Settle Naeschylus Vinzant Police Shooting

Update: The City of Aurora has agreed to pay a $2.6 million settlement in the fatal shooting of Naeschylus Vinzant by Aurora police officer Paul Jerothe in March 2015; see our previous coverage below.

Attorney Qusair Mohamedbhai of the law firm Rathod Mohamedbhai LLC has also released a statement about the settlement. It notes that while the family knows "nothing will make them whole again," the city has "honored the family’s wishes by using Naeschylus’s death as an occasion for introspection and positive change in its police department," including the following:
1) Increased use of body cameras;

2) A reaffirmed commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive police department that mirrors the community it serves;

3) The creation of a Compliance and Professional Standards Division, which is responsible for the development and revision of Aurora Police Department policies and procedures;

4) Greater oversight and responsibility for the Internal Affairs Bureau, which will have additional staff under the control and supervision of higher-ranking command staff;

5) Additional responsibility for the Independent Review Board to review use-of-force incidents and make recommendations on training, policy, and tactics;

6) The establishment of a Citizen Advisory Board, which will review specific policy considerations, weigh in on strategic planning, and potentially assist in the ongoing examination of personnel practices;

7) The development of a Blue Ribbon Panel comprised of civilian and law enforcement experts to assist the Chief in evaluating police tactics; and

8) Efforts to improve communication with the public, including increased use of social media.
The complete release is below and includes additional photos of Vinzant, who is referred to as Naeschylus Carter; he used both names during his life. Continue for our previous coverage.

Original post, 5:37 a.m.: In March 2015, we published multiple posts about the fatal shooting of Naeschylus Vinzant by Aurora police officer Paul Jerothe, a veteran of nearly a decade on the force who has been lauded for his actions in the wake of the 2012 Aurora theater shooting.

Vinzant was unarmed at the time he was killed in broad daylight not far from Laredo Elementary School in Aurora.

Last December, an Aurora grand jury declined to bring charges against Jerothe for the shooting. However, CBS4 is now reporting that a settlement is in the offing — and the dollar amount is said to be in the millions.

As we've noted, Vinzant, the father of seven, had a criminal record that dated back to 1994. His roster of offenses included  trespassing, assault, fraud, wiretapping, drugs, car theft, possessing a weapon as a felon and attempted homicide. His most recent arrest prior to March 2015 was a domestic-violence and parole-violation bust the previous August.

According to the grand jury report, on view below in its entirety, Vinzant returned to the Aurora Police Department's radar on the morning of March 2, 2015, after a report from his wife.

She said she was seated in her car when Vinzant arrived at her home in a red Ford Bronco. Shortly thereafter, Vinzant allegedly smashed in the front driver's-side window of his wife's vehicle, punched her in the face with a closed fist, then grabbed her keys, purse and the couple's two-month-old child before fleeing.

A short time later, Vinzant's mother returned the baby to his wife; the child was unharmed. But the search continued for Vinzant, who'd been wearing an ankle bracelet at the time of the attack. The device, which he subsequently cut off, showed he'd been outside the house when the incident took place.

Four days later, on March 6, the red Bronco was spotted, with a man matching Vinzant's description behind the wheel. Surveillance continued on and off for more than an hour, the grand jury report reveals, with assorted SWAT team members and additional officers eventually spotting him on foot on 12th Avenue, not far from the school on Laredo.

Upon being confronted by officers, Vinzant made "a sudden, jerking movement" during which he "moved his right arm as if trying to take [an item] out of his pocket," the report maintains.

At that point, Officer Jerothe opened fire with his police-provided rifle, striking Vinzant in the chest.

The bullet penetrated his lung and severed his spinal cord, resulting in Vinzant's death, which prompted a series of protests.

What, if anything, had Vinzant been trying to remove from his pocket prior to the fatal shot? That's unclear in the report. But as the document states, "no weapon was found either in his pocket or in the immediate vicinity of Mr. Vinzant's body."

The grand jury didn't find enough evidence to recommend a charge against Jerothe, whose story about the "sudden, jerking movement" was echoed by others at the scene.

Nonetheless, CBS4 has learned that a "historic settlement" will soon be announced by the City of Aurora. The station states that the pact is worth millions.

For more details, see our earlier posts, "Update: Naeschylus Vinzant Wasn't Armed When Killed by Aurora Cops" and "Officer Paul Jerothe ID'd as Naeschylus Vinzant Shooter, Sparks Fly at Protest."

Here's the aforementioned family statement and the grand jury report.

Naeschylus Vinzant Family Statement

Naeschylus Vinzant Grand Jury Report

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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.
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