Aurora, Colorado, law enforcement officials on Friday released the body cam video in the shooting of Jor'Dell Richardson, a 14-year-old boy who was shot and killed by police after allegedly robbing a convenience store earlier this month.
Aurora Chief of Police Art Acevedo, who spoke alongside other Aurora police officers and who was also accompanied by gang-conflict negotiator Reverend Leon Kelly Jr., started the Friday news conference by extending his condolences to Jor'Dell's family.
"Every officer-involved shooting is a tragedy," Acevedo said. "No matter where this investigation takes us… it is a tragedy."
Acevedo said he personally got in touch with Jor'Dell's mother following the shooting, telling her that body cam video was available for her to watch when she was ready to do so.
Before releasing the body camera video, however, Acevedo walked reporters through a timeline of the events leading up to the alleged robbery and the subsequent shooting by police.
Timeline of events
At 4:17 p.m. on June 1, a sergeant with the police department called for backup after spotting a group teens in hoodies and medical masks walking to a convenience store in Aurora. The sergeant then went around the back alley of the convenience store and ran the plates on a Kia vehicle from which the teens emerged. The search on that vehicle showed the car had been stolen.
Acevedo, explaining the events before the teens left the store, said a teen in a white hoodie – which he identified as Jor'Dell – raised his sweatshirt and displayed a weapon that was at his waistband to the cashier.
At the same time, a woman then came into the store and was ordered by the suspects to stay inside by at least two 14-year-old suspects – both who have been since charged with false imprisonment and aggravated robbery.
Five minutes later, by about 4:22 p.m., officers responding to the scene spotted the teen suspects running out of the store and at least one of the officers tried to push Jor'Dell into a wall and "barely missed," Acevedo said during the news conference.
Another officer is then heard ordering Jor'Dell to "get on the ground or I'm going to Tase you," but Acevedo said Jor'Dell was not close enough to the Taser for it to take effect.
A third officer then tells Jor'Dell to get on the ground and seconds later, Acevedo said, Jor'Dell's hand is in his waistband before an altercation ensues between the 14-year-old and the officer.
The police officer is heard telling Jor'Dell that that he's going to shoot him. About five seconds later, a gunshot is heard.
Shortly after, Jor'Dell is heard apologizing and asking for help and for the officer to take him to the hospital.
"They made me do it. I don't know who they are but they made me do it," Jor'Dell is heard telling the officer.
The teen had been shot in the mid-section of his abdomen and "lost consciousness quickly," Acevedo said. About a minute later, first responders arrive to tend to Jor'Dell, who would later die at a hospital.
During the news conference, Acevedo revealed that Jor'Dell was carrying a pellet gun at the time of the shooting.
"The purpose of this conference is to be transparent and to fully discuss to the best of my ability what led to the death of a 14-year-old kid in this community," Acevedo said after showing two different angles of the body cam video.
Investigation of events
Acevedo refused to answer some questions about the shooting Friday, including what Jor'Dell was doing with the firearm and whether he pointed it at officers. The video released Friday by APD does not show if the teen ever pointed the pellet gun at officers as his hands were out of the body cam's view.
"That's part of the investigation. That's a little bit of the ambiguity – that's going to be the question that the (CIRT) investigation will continue (to look into)," Acevedo said, as he reassured the public that the investigation would be very comprehensive. "We know for a fact that he used it to commit an armed robbery – there's no ambiguity there."
Acevedo then said those watching the body cam video could make their own assessments about what happened during those few short minutes.
When asked if the officers could have differentiated between the replica used by Jor'Dell and a real gun, Acevedo said that specifications to differentiate between pellet guns and real firearms by painting the tips orange stopped happening some time ago because gang members started painting the tips of their guns orange as well.
"We have hundreds of millions of real firearms in this country… what is the purpose of a realistic replica?" Acevedo said in off-the-cuff remarks, before admitting he himself bought his 15-year-old a replica handgun. "But guess who has complete of that? I do – and the only time he gets to utilize that is when Dad is there."
Acevedo said in closing remarks he would continue lifting Jor'Dell's family and the officers under his command in prayer, and added the department would not tolerate "those that would come out and try to hijack the pain of a family that has lost their 14-year-old to come out here and wreck mayhem in our community."
Jor'Dell's family spoke to news media shortly after 3:30 p.m. outside the Aurora Municipal Center. Attorneys for the family question why it took Aurora police eight days to say publicly that Jor'Dell had a pellet gun and how this escalated to a shooting.
"The Aurora chief of police needs to stand in front of Jor'Dell's family and the Colorado community and apologize for lying to them, for re-victimizing them when they were at their most vulnerable. Chief Acevedo needs to resign so that the community can begin the long process of rebuilding trust in policing," said attorney Siddhartha Rathod.
Acevedo said to his knowledge, there is no surveillance video with an angle that would show more of the struggle that preceded the shooting. However, attorneys for the family said Friday they've spoken to a business owner that does have surveillance video, which has been turned over to police.
The family, their attorneys and the community said Friday they are going to push for accountability and justice.
Following the family's statements, a group of people briefly blocked all of South Chambers Road late Friday afternoon but traffic impacts subsided by about 6 p.m.
This story was originally published by Óscar Contreras for Scripps News Denver.
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