DENVER (KDVR) — Two officers involved in the shooting death of 14-year-old Jor’Dell Richardson will not face criminal charges, the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office announced on Wednesday.

Police shot and killed Jor’Dell on June 1 after an Aurora convenience store robbery, with responding officers thinking he was armed. It turned out Jor’Dell was carrying a pellet-gun replica of a 9mm pistol, and his killing led to protests in the city.

But prosecutors found that the officer’s belief that it was a real gun was reasonable at the time, and body camera video shows the gun “clearly visible” in Jor’Dell’s hands, according to the DA’s investigative report. Investigators also found that the people involved in the store robbery thought the gun was real.

Interim Aurora Police Chief Art Acevedo said the DA’s decision is “fair and just.”

“Regardless of this finding, the death of a young man is a tragedy for his family and extended community, and it will continue to weigh heavily on members of our department,” Acevedo said in a statement.

FOX31 is reaching out to Jor’Dell’s family representatives about the decision.

Dozens protested outside the Aurora Municipal Center after body camera video was released in the police killing of 14-year-old Jor’Dell Richardson. (KDVR)

What happened in the Jor’Dell Richardson shooting

The report found the two officers were legally justified in using force during the incident, including Officer Roch Gruszeczka’s use of deadly force against the teen.

Gruszeczka and Officer James Snapp were undercover in a truck that day when a sergeant alerted them about masked people by businesses near Eighth Avenue and Dayton Street. The officers drove to the area “believing that a potential robbery of one of the businesses was about to occur,” the report reads.

The store clerk involved in the case later told investigators that a group of masked people went into the store, and a person in a white sweatshirt demanded vape products and flashed what appeared to be a handgun in his waistband, according to the report. A surveillance image included in the report shows just one person in the group in a white sweatshirt, who turned out to be Jor’Dell.

“As Officers Snapp and Gruszeczka arrived they observed multiple masked individuals running out of a liquor store carrying armfuls of merchandise,” the report reads. They activated police lights, and the masked suspects dropped the stolen items and fled. Surveillance video showed two people taking off in a stolen minivan.

When the officers chased Jor’Dell down an alley, Gruszeczka thought he saw a gun on him and tackled him. The officer said he felt Jor’Dell trying to grab a pistol that was pointed at the officer’s stomach, according to the report.

“During this struggle, Officer Gruszeczka unholstered his own firearm and loudly ordered the individual to drop the gun. In response, Officer Gruszeczka felt the individual’s fingers and knuckles moving along Officer Gruszeczka’s belly, re-gripping the pistol-grip of the gun,” the report said.

Gruszeczka then fired one round into Jor’Dell’s midsection.

An officer provides CPR to Jor’Dell Richardson, who had just been shot
An officer provides CPR to Jor’Dell Richardson, who had just been shot (Credit: Aurora Police Department)

When did police learn it was a pellet gun?

The report also gives a better timeline of when officers found out the gun was fake.

Initial reports released by the police department characterized the case as an armed robbery for days before releasing information about the pellet gun. It turns out the police knew that information on the same day as the shooting but did not release the information for over a week.

According to the DA’s report, “Technicians immediately determined the item to be a black H&K pellet gun and this information was relayed to APD investigators and CIRT investigators at the initial OIS briefing on 6/1/23, conducted at the Aurora Police Department.”

Interim Aurora Police Chief Art Acevedo shows images of an HK USP 9mm firearm (left) and its replica pellet version (right) (KDVR)

Police later learned the group was given the replica gun “by an as-yet unidentified co-participant” in the stolen van that later served as a getaway vehicle, and they thought the gun was real, according to the report.

“The suspects apprehended on-scene stated that the individual involved in the OIS was handed the simulated firearm by the unidentified co-participant shortly before the aggravated robbery and was never told that it was a simulated firearm. Indeed, the apprehended suspects remained under the impression that the individual involved in the OIS was armed with a real firearm throughout the aggravated robbery,” the report reads.

Acevedo said the department is finishing a separate internal investigation into whether there were any policy violations in the incident.