AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – The family of an unarmed man who was shot to death in Aurora received a $2.6 million settlement from the city. The shooting led to some changes within the Aurora Police Department.
The historic settlement for the City of Aurora stems from the deadly police shooting of an unarmed black man that happened in March of last year. The settlement amount was announced on Monday morning.
Twenty-seven-year-old Naeschylus Vinzant was wanted for crimes including domestic violence, kidnapping and taking off his ankle monitor. He was spotted near 13th Avenue and Laredo Street and officers confronted him.
One of the officers fired, striking Vinzant in the chest. It was then learned he was unarmed.
Paul Jerothe was the SWAT officer who fired. He had been recognized as a hero during the Aurora theater shooting and was not charged in the case after a grand jury investigation. He remains in an administrative position with the police department.
Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz said following Vinzant’s shooting death, the police department has undergone some reforms that are creating what he calls a “culture of accountability.”
Those changes include a new compliance division that will keep track of officer use-of-force incidents as well as develop and review procedures.
More officers in the department are wearing body cameras and a force review board was created with a new tier system for reporting officer-involved shootings and other use-of-force cases.
The department’s internal affairs division was moved out of police headquarters to an off-site location that was designed to create a more neutral environment for staff to report concerns about police conduct.
“”With the day-to-day community outreach of our officers and the partnerships with community leaders, the department and the community we serve have been able to engage in a constructive dialogue about modern policing, discuss our disagreements about incidents and policy, and work together to build upon the APD’s strong commitment of service,” said Metz.
Metz also talked about what happened in the aftermath of the shooting and how it demonstrates what a unique a community Aurora is.
“In other communities, such an event could have resulted in violence and a breakdown of police-community relations. Here in Aurora, it was noticeably different,” said Metz.
“The loss of life is always tragic and has lasting consequences for the family, friends, neighbors, those employees involved, and the city as a whole. We all believe this settlement is in the best interests of the family and the community. This settlement will hopefully allow everyone to begin the healing process and to close a chapter that has been difficult for all parties involved,” said Aurora City Manager Skip Noe.
Vinzant’s family released a statement that they are grateful for the city’s condolences, “The family of Naeschylus Carter expresses extreme gratitude for the support they have received throughout this tragedy. They ask that the community continue to strive for social justice and reform through peaceful means. The family of Naeschylus Carter will continue to stand with the families of other fallen victims as we continue to fight against systems that suppress rights and freedoms of communities of color.”
LINK: Family Statement