Aurora police release name of SWAT officer who shot unarmed suspect

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Credit: APD Twitter

AURORA, Colo. — The Aurora Police Department identified Thursday the officer who fatally shot an unarmed suspect last week.

Officer Paul Jerothe has been employed with the Aurora Police Department since 2006, APD said. He is a SWAT team paramedic with no prior officer-involved shootings on his record, the department said. In 2013, Jerothe was named Tactical EMS Officer of the Year by the National Tactical Officers Association.

The man who was killed on March 6, 37-year-old Naeschulus Vinzant, was wanted for several crimes including cutting off his court-ordered ankle monitor.

APD said the suspect was shot once in the chest and died as a result of injuries from that gunshot. Jerothe was not hurt, police said.

At a press briefing on Monday, police said they knew almost immediately the suspect was not armed. Otherwise, police still have not released much information about the confrontation that led to the shooting.

Naeschulus Vinzant
Naeschulus Vinzant

“We understand the community’s frustration with the lack of information being released about this case,” Chief of Police Nick Metz said in a statement Thursday. “To ensure a full and thorough investigation and to protect its integrity for Mr. Vinzant’s family, the officer and the community, we must be judicious in limiting the release of information that might jeopardize the final outcome of this case.”

The shooting happened near East 12th Avenue and Lewiston Street, not far from Laredo Elementary School. Officers escorted students around the shooting scene as they walked home from school Friday afternoon. Police Chief Nick Metz said they could have done a better job talking to school officials.

Vinzant has an arrest record dating back to February of 1994. He was most recently arrested in August 2014 in charges related to domestic violence and parole violation.

Here is a timeline of the events Friday afternoon.

The suspect “… was wanted by the Department of Corrections for cutting off his GPS ankle monitor. It was also determined that the subject was wanted by Aurora Police Detectives for assault, robbery, kidnapping, and domestic violence charges,” a statement from Aurora police said. “Due to [his] past violent history, the FAST [Fugitive Apprehension and Surveillance Team] Team requested the assistance of the Aurora SWAT Team to take him into custody.”

“Members of the SWAT Team attempted to take Mr. Vinzant into custody, at which time one shot was fired and Mr. Vinzant was struck once in the chest. On scene SWAT paramedics immediately began life-saving efforts. He was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injury.”

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