AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) – A police officer who was fired for his involvement in a photograph scandal at the Aurora Police Department has filed a lawsuit against the police chief and the city manager.
The FOX31 Problem Solvers discovered former officer Jason Rosenblatt filed the complaint against Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson and Aurora City Manager Jim Twombly on July 2 in an Arapahoe County court, alleging that he was denied “specific rights granted to him under the City of Aurora Human Resources Policy and the Aurora Police Department Directives, including the right to an IRB (Independent Review Board) prior to the imposition of discipline against him.”
Chief Vanessa Wilson fired Rosenblatt on July 3 for his reaction to a photograph, taken at the scene where Rosenblatt and two other officers engaged in a rough altercation with Elijah McClain, an unarmed man who later died.
Wilson said Rosenblatt, who received the photograph via text, replied, “Haha” to the message depicting three other officers smiling and simulating a carotid control hold, the same hold that was used on McClain before his death. A coroner said it was possible the carotid hold contributed to McClain’s demise.
McClain’s August 2019 death has led to national protests in recent months and is now the subject of local, state, and federal investigations.
Rosenblatt was fired along with two officers, Erica Marrero, and Kyle Dittrich, who were seen posing in the photograph. A fourth officer, Jaron Jones, quit the force before Wilson could issue discipline.
The lawsuit said Rosenblatt requested an IRB on June 30, the same day he learned the chief planned to fire him. The suit said that a city attorney informed Rosenblatt that he would be denied his request for an Independent Review Board.
The lawsuit alleges Rosenblatt was advised that “Chief Wilson has adopted the position that allowing an IRB is ‘permissive’ and that it was within her discretion as Chief of Police to deny Plaintiff’s request for an IRB.”
At a press conference July 3, Wilson called an IRB “merely a recommendation that is given to the chief of police. Nothing was going to change my mind on termination. Therefore, I denied their right to an investigative review board, and I am legally able to do so.”
Rosenblatt is asking the court to declare that he is entitled to an IRB and to “compel defendants to comply with the Aurora Human Resources Police.”
He is also seeking compensation for “all reasonable costs and expenses.”