AURORA | For the first time since the long, hot summer of 2020, racial justice protesters shut down traffic in Aurora as they marched in the streets Friday afternoon demanding justice for Jor’Dell Richardson, a 14-year-old shot and killed by police on June 1.

The protestors voiced anger at Friday’s announcement from the Aurora Police Department that Richardson, a suspect in the robbery of an Aurora convenience store, had a pellet gun at the time of his death — not a firearm, as police had said earlier.

“Jor’Dell was a boy and had a toy,” said Siddhartha Rathod, a lawyer representing Richardson’s family.

Police argued that the pellet gun looked like a real firearm.

On Sunday, friends and members of Richardson’s family announced they would hold a funeral procession Friday at the Colorado State Capitol with the boy’s casket. The event is slated to begin at 5 p.m. with a memorial and eulogy planned by community leaders for the west steps of the Capitol. A funeral march is scheduled to begin at approximately 5:40 p.m., according to a social media post.

Many in the crowd on Friday were veterans of the protests calling for justice for Elijah McClain, and questioned why the city was yet again asking for answers following the death of a young Black male at the hands of police.

“You cannot be trusted if you cannot tell us the truth,” Pastor Thomas Mayes said of APD. “Come clean, or stay away dirty.”

Dueling press conferences took place Friday afternoon at the Aurora municipal complex, with APD holding a press conference where body-worn camera footage of the shooting was publicly released for the first time. Following the police press conference, Richardson’s family held a press conference and then a march around the complex, which spilled into the streets.

Scheduled for 3:30 p.m., the family’s press conference began over an hour and a half late due to how late the sprawling and lengthy police press conference ran, where the footage was not shown until about 45 minutes in.

Some protesters accused the police of intentionally stalling to try to discourage the crowd, which Interim Police Chief Art Acevedo scoffed at.

“I’m not going to come in here and rush this press conference because he thinks that’s what I should do, and shame on him,” he said in response to a comment from Rathod.

Acevedo at the press conference avoided weighing in on the decision by one of his officers to fatally shoot Richardson but displayed an image that he said showed the boy reaching into his waistband for a pellet gun resembling a firearm.

Explaining his reluctance to talk about officers’ actions, he said the investigation by the 18th Judicial District’s Critical Incident Response Team into whether criminal charges ought to be filed against the officers involved was ongoing, along with an internal probe.

Multiple sources familiar with the matter told the Sentinel that the chief has spoken about the possibility of pulling the department out of its current agreement with the 17th and 18th judicial districts to handle investigations of officer-involved shootings.

The chief would not answer whether Aurora police would remain in the current agreement but said the process was not entirely consistent with what he would like to see. He said it would not impact the Richardson investigation and that he didn’t want to speculate on who might take over those investigations.

Friday’s event included the release of body-worn camera footage from the perspective of two Aurora officers involved in the June 1 incident — including the officer who fired the fatal single shot, Roch Gruszeczka — though the videos fail to show what exactly Richardson was doing at the moment he was shot.

After officer James Snapp tackled Richardson, the teen said, “Stop, please, you got me.”

“Gun, gun, let go of the f*****g gun,” Gruszeczka yells. He then yells that he is going to fire, and a gunshot is heard.

The footage captures the hectic final moments of Richardson’s life as he screams, pleads for help, tells officers that he cannot breathe and becomes unresponsive. Police tried unsuccessfully to revive Richardson before paramedics arrived and took over medical care.

While Acevedo would not say whether he believed Gruszeczka was right in shooting Richardson, one image highlighted by Acevedo that was taken from another officer’s perspective shortly before Richardson was tackled to the ground and several seconds before he was shot showed Richardson’s hand near his waistband.

The chief remarked to those present, “you can make your own assessment, and that will be part of the investigation.”

Acevedo said Gruszeczka and Snapp were both hired in 2017 and are presently serving with the department’s gang intervention unit. He also said neither officer had a record of “significant” use-of-force incidents or disciplinary histories.

Responding to criticism from community members stemming from his apparent decision to tell Richardson’s mother that he didn’t think the teen had suffered, Acevedo said he was hopeful Richardson did not suffer as his stomach wound worsened.

“I just hope and pray that he didn’t suffer, that he was in the arms of angels right away when he went into cardiac arrest,” he said. “It’s a tragedy because we have yet again in this country an encounter involving young people, and acts of violence, and ultimately an officer-involved … shooting.”

Richardson’s father, Jameco Richardson, criticized Acevedo for those comments at the family’s press conference.

“Our son died in a dirty alley,” he said. “How dare you.”

While Acevedo lamented the fact of the shooting, he said officers may have feared for their lives during the struggle with Richardson, who police say was tackled after robbing a convenience store for vape cartridges.

Addressing the attorneys representing the family of the slain teenager, Acevedo accused representatives of the family of misrepresenting what happened and said officers weren’t able to break the situation down at the time like people viewing the video footage frame by frame.

“When your life is on the line, mister attorney, what are you going to do?” Acevedo asked. “We have a 14-year-old kid dead, and we have officers who were involved who have to live with this critical incident for the rest of their lives. So it is not a toy. In fact, our officers believed that it was a semi-automatic, nine-millimeter (pistol). But I understand the lawyers’ (decision) to call it a toy. And by the way, pellet guns can cause serious bodily injury or death.”

Rathod said Richardson’s family was told that he had a pellet gun, not an actual handgun, “about five minutes” before the public press conference began. He said police did not give any explanation for why they were just being told this over a week after the shooting.

Acevedo said he had “confirmed” that the item was a pellet gun rather than a firearm the day before Friday’s news conference.

Juan Marcano, an Aurora city council member, also said that the information was new to him despite having been in conversation with the police department since the incident.

Acevedo criticized the media for sharing what he said was incorrect information about the shooting without specifying what coverage had been in error.

Leon Kelly, executive director of Open Door Youth Gang Initiatives, was also invited by police to speak. He argued that the individuals who were with Richardson, and community members who did not intervene to dissuade Richardson from involvement in crime, were also to blame for the teen’s death.

“I wouldn’t be standing here if I didn’t have compassion for the family,” he said. “This is not a George Floyd. … This was technically a robbery. It was in the commission of a crime.”

He argued that Acevedo had acted with transparency by releasing the body-worn camera footage and sharing other information with the public.

Acevedo said two other 14-year-olds involved in the alleged June 1 robbery have been arrested on suspicion of false imprisonment and aggravated robbery, and that other people who were involved had been tentatively identified.

Rathod characterized APD’s press conference as an attempt by Acevedo to “exonerate” the officers, not an exercise in transparency. Other speakers made similar remarks.

Jameco Richardson said that he would like to see Acevedo removed from his position.

“You don’t deserve that badge,” he said. “You don’t deserve to be called chief. You’re a coward.”

Also present were Richardson’s mother, 19-year-old brother and grandmother. His mother, Laurie Littlejohn, said that he had been “the light of our house.”

“For a week now, our light has dimmed low,” she said.

Littlejohn thanked everyone for the support the family has received over the past week, and said that her son did not deserve what happened to him.

“In life, we make mistakes so that we can grow,” she said. “They took that from our son.”

Littlejohn asked people not to forget his name in the weeks and months to come.

“This is going to be a long road for us,” she said.

Join the Conversation


  1. First of all, why was he committing robbery? If that hadn’t happened none of the rest would have@

  2. Both Jameson Richardson and Pastor Thomas Mayes can scream and yell all they want. This was an armed robbery folks! This young man robbed a store, ran from the cops, had a gun in his pants and made some very bad choices. No one is blaming his parents for being a stupid kid and making bad choices. But, they should as they obviously didn’t do a very good job in parenting their son. Sad all around but, he made that choice to rob that store, carry a gun and run from the cops. Innocent people don’t do that. His parents need to recognize that and his lawyers need to shut the heck up and so does that Pastor. This kid is not some hero. You play with fire and you get burned.

    1. The extents to which people will go to justify extrajudicial killings by law enforcement never ceases to amaze me. You’re buying the police story hook, line, and sinker. I bet you believe the stories of cops passing out from coming within a few feet of fentanyl as well, don’t you?

      1. Defending criminals never ceases to amaze me either. I bet you believe the gentle giant image and the hands up don’t sh00t garbage. Bottom line – justified in my book. Now cry me a river. God bless our law enforcement. Blue Lives Matter

      2. Look up “aggravated robbery” and get back to us, Bart. Despite your side’s perpetual attempt to enable criminal activity in the name of “soshullll jizztizz,” it’s still a felony, at least for now, to use a toy gun to rob someone, and the insinuation of a deadly threat is likely to engender the use of deadly force in response. Just sticking your finger in your sweatshirt pocket and saying “I have a gun” qualifies.

    2. I couldn’t agree with you more…this 14-year old kid knew right from wrong when he robbed this convenience store. He also knew that if he ran he might get caught…the police officer did not have time to investigate what type of gun the kid had on him. The kid made several bad choices and paid the ultimate price. Let this be a lesson to ALL kids and their parents…don’t rob any store store, never run from a police officer and don’t carry a gun intending to threaten a person with it. Yes, you play with fire and you get burned

    3. He was shot after police had him down! Why shoot him after you’ve tackled him down. He was no longer a threat!

    4. He was shot after police had him down! Why shoot him after you’ve tackled him down. He was no longer a threat! They always shoot first when a black kid is involved. This is intentional!

  3. Most unfortunate, however, it was a crime in progress and an apparent “gun” involved which the end result kinda goes without saying.

  4. Jor’Dell was a criminal, committing a criminal act with other criminals, and brandished a gun later proven to be a pellet gun.
    A pellet gun is not a “toy”.
    So.rry that he did not just raise his hands in the air, but instead caused to happen what occurred.
    Reverend Leon Kelly was quite correct.

  5. The family attorney said ““Jor’Dell was a boy and had a toy,”
    This “boy” participated in a CRIME with a GUN. IT is nearly impossible to determine a real gun from a pellet gun while in potentially life threating situation for an officer in dealing with a crime in progress.
    I feel bad for this family losing a family member regardless of age is life changing.

    But, I have to ask where were the parents were and how much attention was paid to the activities this young man was involved in prior to this incident when Jor’Del was learning to make poor choices.

    Law enforcement officers face life and death decisions every day, sometimes multiple times a day.
    In Denver last week two officers were shot in 1 day in two separate incidents.

    “The National Fraternal Order of Police reports that as of midnight on 31 May, there have been 166 officers shot in the line of duty so far in 2023 (+30% from 2021 YTD; +40% from 2020 YTD). Of those officers shot, 20 of them were killed by gunfire (-23% from 2021 YTD; -13% from 2020 YTD).

    There have been 47 ambush-style attacks on law enforcement officers this year. These ambush-style attacks have resulted in 54 officers shot, 9 of whom were killed by gunfire.”

    So , want to thank Law enforcement Officers for putting themselves out there every day to help keep our world as safe as possible. Stay safe, go home at the end of your shift and take care of yourself.

  6. “”Jor’Dell was a boy and had a toy,” said Siddartha Rathod, a lawyer representing Richardson’s family.””

    How on earth has this dingdong won so many awards? Even a 1st-year law student ought to know that using a toy gun to rob people is illegal and that deadly force might be applied to neutralize the threat.

    Oh, that’s right–it’s because Rathod thinks that it’s okay to rob people when it’s done by a non-white person, and that doing so based on non-white skin color shouldn’t ever be considered a crime.

  7. Based upon the article and its description of the sheriff statements, I thought he did a professional and compassionate job at relaying the circumstances of this terrible incident.

  8. Facts are not important to ambulance chasers like Rathod. The object of Mr. Rathod’s efforts is to get his percentage of the money he can squeeze out of the city. The fact that the weapon in this and similar cases is not real is irrelevant according to state law. One does not even have to possess a weapon at the time of the robbery. A suggestion or statement that the perpetrator has one is sufficient. In this case, the young man, apparently egged on by others, robbed the store and failed to follow simple police instructions.

  9. I don’t care what his parents, their attorney and pastor say…going around stealing vehicles, committing armed robbery, fleeing from police. This wasn’t a “good” kid. This is 100% failed parenting and his parents need to take accountability instead of looking for a payout. They had no clue that their 14-year-old, their recently-graduated 8th grader, was out gang-banging? That’s on them and they should be charged with his death.

  10. They should be protesting the parents who are letting their kids roam the streets like feral dogs. The parents got their kid killed. The police are violent, thugs and their chief is an abomination who keeps ending up in different towns because he’s incompetent. All of these things are true. But given that, pay attention to your kids, what they’re doing and where they are. If you don’t know exactly where your kids are, every minute of every day, you are the problem.

  11. I don’t watch the news but when I came to my parents house this story was on and I saw the photo of 2 guns – one that was the pellet gun and the other the gun it was immigrating. Having working with firearms and done training, I couldn’t tell the difference in the 20-30 seconds they were on the screen.

    Assuming he brandished the weapon as he was apprehended, cops didn’t have the minute or two to figure out if they were about to get shot or if it was a “toy” which pellet guns are NOT. In addition, this weapon was also used in an actual crime which would carry the same consequences if it were a real weapon had he been apprehended peacefully.

    The boy ran from cops after he committed armed robbery and then he supposedly brandished the gun and was shot for it.

    I’m all for racial justice and I think sometimes cops are a little heavy handed. This is NOT one of those times.

    Keep in mind that had this boy robbed someone and gotten shot by a civilian, the civilian wouldn’t even be charged since this was a lookalike and a weapon itself.

    For people to protest this death is asinine to me. What we should be protesting is why so many kids end up killing others, robbing stores, stealing cars, and running from cops.

    The child wasn’t killed by the cops. He was killed by the choices he made.

    1. He did not brandish the weapon. Watch the video. This is another multimillion dollar settlement waiting to happen.

      1. Irrelevant. If he used it to rob someone, he already committed a felony and could be considered a deadly threat.

  12. In the press conference, the boy’s father used a suspicious phrase, “… even when I was away.” Who wants to bet “away” meant “in prison?” This family has a couple of failures for parents. Tragic, yes, but play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

  13. Aurora has invited lawsuits by its past ridiculous settlements. Yes the city had liability in the Elijah Mcclain matter, but they settled beyond all facts or reason rather than fight. The message sent by that settlement was the bank is open, please come in. Well Siddhartha Rathod is accepting that invitation.

    Aurora exacerbated the situation by meekly acquiesing to the consent degree. The message sent was they will not assert the facts, that in the face of criticism they will wilt and allow those with an agenda to set the narrative, no matter how skewed. Of course Mr. Rathod has seen this and will follow that playbook.

    Until the city has attorneys who will fight for the city instead of acting as a welcoming mat for lawsuits the Siddhartha Rathods of the world will be visiting regularly for the largese available.

  14. So wait, now we just throw out “weapon” for “toy” and don’t realize that it still very well could have been semi-auto??? A replica of a “weapon” is still a “weapon” you bigots!

  15. replica or real it would have been the same blow back from the community. They are refusing to hold these ‘kids’ responsible for their actions. Hasn’t even one said that he shouldn’t have been doing that and it’s most unfortunate that the end result was his death but ….. let’s see what can be done to get these kids and guns off the street???

  16. Are you even kidding me? A funeral procession is held for a political figure who did something good or a famous person not a young thug who robbed a store, ran from the police and had a gun in his pants. It doesn’t matter if it was a pellet gun! Shame on this young man’s parents , his attorneys for turning this into something that it’s not. This is not another Elijah McClain situation. That was a tragic event. This was a young man who made some stupid choices, ran and had a fun that looked real. Cops did what they’re trained to do. Parents and the lawyers should be out in jail for trying to on showcase that this young man was hero of some kind. He committed a dam crime! He made bad choices and obviously his parents didn’t know his whereabouts. Blame the parents here not the Aurora PD. Shame on them for thinking he deserves a procession. This is not a George Floyd or Elijah McClain situation. This was a stupid young man who made some bad decisions and only has his parents to blame. End of discussion!!

    1. The grandstanding by these parents is indeed disgusting. They should be embarrassed, regretful, and pained by their poor parenting.

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