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Police chief: Officers warned Colorado homeowner to drop weapon

DENVER – thirty-three seconds after arrival at a suburban Denver house where a man had broken and fell to an 11-year-old boy, police officers heard shots inside.

An armed man came into view, police said Thursday, rejecting five orders to drop his gun. He started to come in the direction of the officers, and the education of a flashlight he held in his other hand.

An officer fired four rounds, killing 73-year-old Richard Black, Aurora police chief Nick Metz said the department of the first detailed description of the shooting early Monday.

The officers soon found the intruder — a 26-year-old Dajon Harper — dead in a bathroom of shots Black and fired to protect his grandson. These were the officers shots heard after arriving at the chaotic scene.

Metz said he did not hear of the uniformed officers identify themselves as police in the body of the camera video. He acknowledged that Black, a decorated Vietnam veteran, had a “significant hearing loss” from his military service that made it difficult for him to hear the orders to drop his gun.

The police will not release footage of the bodycam or 911 call, referring to the wishes of the Black family and the officers of justice who will decide whether the battery of the unknown officer who opened fire.

The police chief said that parts of the audio and video are difficult to understand because of background noise, such as shouting, but he said a forensic review will try to erase it.

A lawyer said the Black woman, Jeanette, gave an emergency coordinator physical descriptions of Black, her son and the intruder, but Metz said that those were not to be found on one of the 911 recordings.

Black-and-white, and Harper was black.

The Black family said in a statement released by the police, that Jeanette Black 911 call was difficult to understand, and confirmed the police department that the officers not received descriptions.

Jeanette Black was heard on footage of the bodycam saying: “He has a gun,” as the police arrived, but Metz said he did not know whether the prosecutor heard.

Harper, who was released from prison in February after serving time for weapons and menacing charges, broke into the house by knocking on the front door to open. He had a party across the street, where he was out of hand, acting irrational and damaging cars, Metz said.

Some partygoers followed him into the Black house to try to get Harper to come back, to add to the confusion. Others stood outside with a Black woman when police arrived. A caller told a dispatcher that Harper was on drugs.

The police chief said Black acted heroically to protect his family, but also defended the actions of his officers, including the one that killed Black, a fellow military veteran who was involved in another fatal police shooting, a little more than a month ago.

The officer returned to duty 14 days after that recording, which Metz said was much longer than the minimum three days of leave recommended by the International Association of chiefs of Police.

“They were not reckless. These officers reacted how I would expect them to respond, given the very limited information they had,” he said.

Sigh and look down at the floor, Metz says the body camera video was heartbreaking.

“I can tell you that as my parents sat around the table and for the first time saw — and I’m talking about police officers on the job 25, 30 years that have seen just about everything — there was not a dry eye around the table,” the chef said.

“It is very gruesome to look at, not only from the point of view of watching a man who saved his family shot at, but also to know what that little boy was subjected to,” he said.

In their statement, the Black family urged people not to threaten or harass police because of what happened, and noted that Richard Black and very much appreciated the enforcement of the law.

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This story has been corrected to show that the defendant was black.

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