We know the drill.
Aurora police get on their Twitter account to tell the public and the press that there’s been a shooting.
Then it turns out that it was an officer-involved shooting. “No officers were injured.”
Then, almost always via Twitter, or on an obscure blog roll, Aurora police offer something like this:
“On Thursday October 10th, 2019 at approximately 11:30 p.m. Aurora Police Officers responded to a residence in the 1500 block of South Bahama Street to investigate an assault when an armed adult male was encountered by officers. One officer discharged a firearm striking the armed male. He was then transported to an area hospital. The extent of his injuries are not yet known as they are still being evaluated. This is an active and on-going investigation, and no further information is available at this time.”
That was almost a week ago. Tuesday afternoon, police released the name of the man who got in the way of the officer’s bullet when the cop — without saying anything like, “police” or “drop your weapon” or “watchya doin?” — fired it through a window into the man’s house and into his lower back and buttocks. It was almost midnight.
The man police shot was Andy Huff. The only real details of the shooting so far have come from Huff’s attorney, Birk Baumgartner.
It seems that details like that just keep getting lost in the shuffle of APD’s busy, busy days and nights.
Aurora residents are tired of being played by the cops and District Attorney George Brauchler, who can’t manage to pump out a couple of details like, the cop shot the dude through his goddamn window while his back was turned. From what it sounds like, Huff had retrieved his own gun because he thought he was about to be attacked by a drug-infused former roommate who’d stolen his brother’s car. He had no idea it was the cops sneaking around outside that were about to shoot him, through a window, in the back.
The only reason we know any of this is that Sentinel reporters put a couple of things together, and the shooting victim’s lawyer called to explain what’s what.
That’s how it goes in Aurora. Cops sometimes shoot, strangle, maim or kill people they come in contact with, and the public finds out what’s what from victims, their families and their lawyers.
This is what passes for a public information policy in Aurora and Arapahoe County. It’s pathetic, and it’s the antithesis of Colorado’s once-proud history of open government. Aurora used to be Colorado’s gold standard for balancing the needs of police investigators and the public’s right and need to know. It has become a worrisome black-hole of secrets that threatens the credibility of hundreds of highly professional cops who deserve better.
By bungling public information 101, Aurora police draw a cloud of suspicion over the city. They make what could be a complicated incident look like an amateur cover-up.
Because if there’s pertinent information that sheds light on this and makes it look like something different, just the victims telling only their side of the story can’t be doing much in “preserving the integrity” of this dubious case.
People don’t want to hear the bogus “integrity” scam anymore.
Why? Because in Fort Worth, Texas, and all over the rest of the country — where I’m assuming they live under and abide by the same U.S. Constitution, court system and rule of law — police there tell the public what’s what when a cop shoots someone in the back, late at night, inside their own house.
In fact, that’s what happened over the weekend, just two days after a similar shooting happened right here.
Police and district attorney investigators need to stop stone-walling and start talking.
The lawyer representing the very unfortunate Huff says witnesses told him that the cops sneaked up to Huff’s house and never said a word before one of them opened fire, shot five times through the window and hit Huff once.
I and the entire state of Colorado are all ears about what it is that drew cops to Huff’s house at almost midnight. Because if it was the squabble with his former roommate over a car that the man admitted he stole, the cops let that incident go at 1 p.m. earlier that day.
And the cops have a ton of talking to do to explain why a week after they shot Huff in the back, through a window, in his house, at night, without warning, they decided to press assault charges against him.
And I’m just dying to hear what it was they think Huff did that warranted an unsuccessful execution in his house, through a window, and without warning. Was it because his “criminal” record made it clear that this guy has to be one of the worst drivers in the state? So cops get to shoot people for being lousy drivers?
This has got to stop. If Fort Worth can solve, explain, fire and charge a cop with murder in a matter of a few days, surely the Aurora Police and the 18th Judicial District can bother to offer up a few details like, their shooting victim’s name, or that they shot they guy in the back, through a window in his house, at night, without saying a word.
We need prosecutors who can handle dispensing both justice and public information.
Aurora police have now burnt through their benefit of the doubt. They have toasted every ounce of credibility they were borrowing the last time they killed someone and barely said a word.
Aurora’s city manager and the city council need to take this out of the hands of police and bring in professional advisers to solve this problem before the public learns nothing about they next person the cops kill or maim.
Gov. Jared Polis needs to impose an independent investigation for this and the last few incidents involving Aurora police who killed or maimed people.
That will only begin to restore public trust in police. It’s up to them to expand on that.
Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or dperry[email protected]