AURORA | A longtime local activist and member of the city’s Human Relations Commission is accused of having sex with a prostitute and firing a gun into a car the prostitute was in.
Hashim Tarik Coates, 41, was charged March 8 with one felony count of illegally discharging a firearm and misdemeanor counts of patronizing a prostitute, soliciting a prostitute and criminal mischief. Court records say the incident happened in December.
In addition to the Human Relations Commission, Coates, who has taken the first steps toward running for city council this year, has worked on campaigns for several local Democrats, including Morgan Carroll’s efforts to head the state’s Democratic Party.
Coates was charged Wednesday, according to court documents, and is due in court April 21.
Arapahoe County prosecutors asked for a special prosecutor to handle the case and Dave Young, the DA in Adams County, is prosecuting, said Vikki Migoya, a spokeswoman for the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
Migoya said she couldn’t discuss why District Attorney George Brauchler’s office asked for a special prosecutor.
A spokeswoman for Young said she couldn’t comment on the pending case.
As a member of HRC, Coates is a regular at the same functions as Brauchler and other local leaders. A photo on the DA’s Facebook page from a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in Aurora shows Coates and Brauchler smiling together.
Coates said Friday he doesn’t yet have a lawyer.
He said he is no longer running for city council but said that decision was unrelated to the criminal charges against him.
“I’m not guilty of anything,” he said.
He said he stepped aside because former councilwoman Debi Hunter-Holen, a fellow Democrat, is running and he is backing her.
Coates said he is still serving on HRC.
He declined to comment on the specifics of the charges against him and said when he gets a lawyer he will refer comments to them.
According to court documents, on Dec. 4, 2016, Coates had sex with a prostitute and fired a gun into a car where the prostitute and three other people were. The criminal mischief charge accuses Coates of damaging $300 worth of property.
Court officials said there was no arrest affidavit in the case, which would typically provide more details about what investigators believe happened.
Aurora police Sgt. Chris Amsler said the incident happened in the parking lot of Town Center at Aurora mall but said he couldn’t comment further on the case or release police reports from that night because of the ongoing investigation.
Police could release further details Monday, Amsler said.
Coates has served on the city’s 12-member Human Relations Commission, a volunteer board tasked with combating prejudice in the city and investigating related complaints, for at least three years, according to Barbara Shannon-Banister, head of the city’s community relations division. Shannon-Banister also acts as the city liaison for the Human Relations Commission.
“Hashim is very vocal about what he believes and has no qualms about expressing his beliefs,” Shannon-Banister said of her experiences interacting with Coates, who served as the commission’s second vice chairman for a stint last year.
As Human Relations Commissioners are appointed by city council, it would take an act of council to formally remove a current commissioner from the group, according to Shannon-Banister.
Prior to working on Carroll’s bid to lead the Democratic party, Coates worked on Congressional campaigns for both Carroll last year and former state lawmaker Andrew Romanoff in 2014.
“He didn’t engage in any criminal behavior that I saw during his time with the campaign,” said Drew Godinich, former campaign spokesman for Carroll. “But I think those charges are disqualifying from holding elected office if proven true.”
Carroll did not immediately respond to requests for comment on this story.