Aurora police schedule press conference to address recent deaths related to officer-interactions

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AURORA | Aurora police have scheduled a press conference for 11 a.m. Friday to release details of two recent, separate deaths related to police interaction.

Police spokesperson Officer Anthony Camacho said Deputy Chief Paul O’Keefe would present updates on two cases: The Aug. 24 incident with Elijah McClain, which led to his death, and an officer-involved shooting death from Oct. 20, which few details are so far known.

Police are asking interested members of the media to RSVP for the Friday press conference. The event will be held in a “secure location” inside police headquarters. Media attending must be escorted to the press conference, according to information released Thursday afternoon.

Investigators have said last month they were seeking to determine exactly what occurred in the moments before Elijah McClain’s heart stopped beating after being placed into custody and transported to a local hospital in north Aurora Aug. 24.

McClain was later taken off of life support and died Aug. 30.

Sentinel Colorado published a cover story Thursday focusing on how friends and family members of McClain said he was unlikely to behave like police said he did before a confrontation with them.

Aurora police have not released officer body camera footage of the Aug. 24 interaction with McClain, saying it could interfere with an investigation into the death.

However, a lawyer for McClain’s parents said they have reviewed the footage. She said the jarring video showed Aurora cops “torturing” McClain by using a chokehold, cuffing his hands behind his back and forcing him prone on the ground.

Lawyer Mari Newman said McClain eventually began vomiting, at which point an officer threatened to sick a dog on him. She also claimed that first responders injected McClain with ketamine — a powerful tranquilizer used to treat depression and as anesthesia — to subdue him. She said McClain was then loaded into the ambulance, where he went into cardiac arrest before being resuscitated.

He never regained consciousness, his family said.

In a separate incident police say they’ll discuss Friday an Oct. 20 early morning melee at a north-Aurora apartment complex left one man critically injured from a gunshot that may have come from an officer who fired toward someone during the encounter.

Police said that incident began at about 2 a.m. Sunday when police were called to a noisy, physical disturbance outside apartments at 9121 E. 14th Ave.

En route to the call, Denver Police dispatchers notified APD that a new gunfire-detection system had identified shots fired in the area.

When Aurora officer arrived, they could hear fighting on the north side of the apartment building, police said in a statement released Saturday on a blog roll.

“Officers then observed an adult male in the north parking lot of the apartment complex who was armed with a weapon,” according to the statement by APD Public Information Officer Matthew Longshore.  “After encountering this male, an officer discharged their weapon in his direction. This male then ran back inside of the apartment building.”

Police said that seconds later, “numerous people” began pouring out of the building’s front door.

“During this commotion, an adult male was found to be suffering from multiple gunshot wounds,” Longshore wrote.

Police called for rescuers, who took the injured man to a nearby hospital.

“At this time, it is unknown if the male party who was shot was the same male that officers encountered outside, or if this male was shot before police arrived on scene,” Longshore wrote.

Police said there were three other people at the scene injured during the fight that originally drew complaints. They, too, were taken to a nearby hospital.

It’s unclear if police will discuss another, recent, officer-related shooting in the department.

In that incident, police shot through a man’s living room window near midnight Oct. 10, reportedly without warning, hitting the man in the back.

The attorney of the man has called for the Arapahoe County District Attorney to file criminal charges against the officer who fired his weapon.

Denver-based criminal defense attorney Birk Baumgartner told The Sentinel last week he’s calling for 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler to file charges against Aurora Police Officer Alexander Ord, who fired at least four shots from a handgun into a home at 1570 S. Bahama St.

One of the shots struck the homeowner, 22-year-old Andy Huff, in the buttocks, according to an arrest affidavit filed against Huff.

Huff, who was holding a pistol grip shotgun when he was shot by police, survived the shooting. His lawyer said he was critically wounded.

Most details from two of the cases have come from the families of those killed or injured during interactions with police.

The Huff shooting stemmed from an interaction earlier in the day among Huff, his brother and a former roommate. In a court affidavit, police said they returned to Huff’s home near midnight to discuss the earlier incident.

Witnesses said three officer walked from a distance to Huff’s home. One officer knocked on the front door and another officer fired five shots into the home immediately after.

 

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