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Aurora police chief: Unclear if homeowner heard orders to drop gun

AURORA, Colo. -- Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz said Thursday that he met with about 10 family members after an officer fatally shot an armed homeowner early Monday morning.

He said it's obvious Richard "Gary" Black saved the life of his grandson and protected other members of his family before getting shot by an officer.

Metz said the department will not release body-worn camera video or the 911 audio recording of the incident. He said there was an issue with clarity regarding some of the recordings.

The district attorney's office has asked the release of the video be withheld. The family wrote a letter to the Aurora Police Department that Metz read during the news conference.

In the letter, they asked that the body-cam video and the 911 call recordings not be released at this time.

"The family desires space to grieve and does not wish to have the family in violent moments of Gary’s distinguished life be his public legacy," the letter said.

Metz said he will order an independent forensic review of body cam footage and 911 call surrounding Black’s death.

Metz said Black's family watched the body-cam video and they also listened to the 911 recording.

The suspect in the home invasion, 26-year-old Dajon Harper, was at party across the street from Black’s home and became “out of control,” Metz said.

He started damaging cars in the neighborhood. Multiple calls came into 911.

Metz said Harper somehow knocked the door to Black’s home off its hinges. Once inside, Harper grabbed Black’s 11-year-old grandchild and put the him in a bathroom and violently assaulted the child.

Speaking about one of the 911 calls, Metz said there was no physical description given to 911 of what the suspect looked like.

The caller said the suspect was in the bathroom and there was lots of blood everywhere.

Police did release a recording of dispatchers communicating with officers.

Metz said there was upward of 10 people inside Black's home when police arrived. He said people came in to try to get the intruder out.

Metz then described what is shown on the officer's body-worn camera. There were numerous people outside the house with lots of yelling with people saying a child is being hurt.

Black's wife told officers, "He has a gun," and then shots are heard inside the home. This was shot within 33 seconds of arrival.

Metz said officers saw Black walking with a gun and flashlight.

Officers say they gave "at least five commands" to tell Black to drop the gun. Black raised the flashlight. Metz said it was at that time the officer fired four rounds at Black and he fell to the ground.

Metz said Black had "significant hearing impairment" from his time in the military.

The attorney for the family has said Black's wife gave a detailed description of Black to police.

Metz acknowledges she was involved in a stressful situation. Metz said a review of the 911 tapes found no description given of Gary Black.

Metz said two minutes and 27 seconds went by from when police arrived at the home to when they entered the bathroom in the home where the boy was injured, and Harper was dead.

The police chief said the officer ran into "an incredibly dangerous" situation. The officer has been with department for three years and is a military veteran. He described the officer as heartbroken.

The same officer was involved in another shooting on June 27 in the 8900 block of East Colfax Avenue. He returned to duty 18 days later after completing all requirements needed to return.

"Officers responded how I would expect them to respond in that situation ... they put themselves in harm's way to save lives," Metz said.

Police released recordings of police dispatch conversations and some 911 call recordings.

Warning: The graphic nature and language used in some of the audio may not be appropriate for all listeners.

 

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