AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Aurora’s police chief is calling this year’s string of officer-involved shootings unprecedented.
Just 3 months into 2011 there have already been five officer-involved shootings in Aurora. Three suspects were killed and several others were injured by police gunfire. Right now nine officers are on administrative leave while authorities investigate.
In January police wounded a man suspected of robbing a bank. In February a suspected drug dealer under surveillance was shot and killed. In March, in seperate incidents, two men were shot and killed by officers after taking hostages. And last week a Russian immigrant was shot during a confrontation with police.
While the investigations continue, police have held special meetings with community leaders.
“In all five instances we have evidence that deadly force was used or threatened against our officers or civilians,” Chief Dan Oates said.
So numerous are the incidents, Deputy Chief Terry Jones sent a memo to his officers saying, “Even in the most trying times and difficult circumstances you have met each and every challenge and prevailed.”
While the Aurora police maintain that their use of a weapon was justified in each case, there are those in the community who may feel otherwise. Friends grieved at the site where Aaron Williams died after shooting at police and taking hostages.
“I know he shot a police officer, but they didn’t have to kill him,” Williams’ friend Khilah Weathers said.
Three officers are still recovering from injuries they suffered. The officers involved in the shootings have been offered counseling.