AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– Aurora’s police chief says it’s possible that the homeowner, shot and killed by an officer during a home invasion and assault investigation, didn’t hear the commands of officers to drop his weapon.
Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz says that the family of Richard “Gary” Black informed investigators on Thursday that he had a hearing impairment.
“Mr. Black saved his family’s life that night,” said Metz. “There is no doubt that he did everything he could to protect everything that was important to him and that was his family.”
The suspect in the early Monday morning attack has been identified as 26-year-old Dajon Harper.
A 911 call released by police on Thursday is that of Harper’s mother who followed her son into the neighboring home belonging to the Black family.
911 Caller: “Dajon! Get out here; you are in people’s house. Open the door!”
911 Caller: “He has literally kicked in some people’s door and I am in their house, I’m his mom, he is on some type of drug or something.”
Police said they are awaiting toxicology reports to determine whether Harper was under the influence at the time of the attack.
Harper was reportedly naked when he kicked down Black’s door and grabbed an 11-year-old child and tried to strangle and drown him in the bathroom.
911 Caller: “He got a baby in there, he’s trying to drown the baby.”
911 Operator: “Does he have a weapon?”
911 Caller: “No, he don’t have no weapon.”
Metz confirmed the family’s account of Black, 73, shooting the suspect; that he was protecting his grandson who was being attacked by Harper.
Black was a Vietnam war veteran and a winner of the Bronze Star. He is a retired IRS agent and described by neighbors as a family man.
“He loved his family. He loved the time he spent with his wife. His wife actually spent time with Cops Fighting Cancer and made blankets for children fighting cancer,” said Metz.
Metz also said that he has ordered an independent forensic review of the 911 call and body camera footage.
“I have probably listened to the 911 personally, many, many times,” said Metz.
He said that the family has listened to the 911 call as well as watched the police body camera footage.
Metz said the body camera footage shows many people outside the home and they are agitated when officers arrived.
Metz said that as officers approached the home, Black’s wife can be heard saying, “He has a gun.”
He then described the footage where the officers came in contact with Black, who had a gun in one hand and a flashlight in the other. Metz said officers initiated five commands in 13 seconds to Black to drop his weapon.
Metz said that Black did not drop his weapon and instead raised his flashlight and that is when the officers fired.
From the time officers arrived at the home to the time when they went into the bathroom to discover that Harper was the suspect and had been shot, was two minutes and 27 seconds.
“They found the bathroom where the screams were coming from and it was there that officers found the deceased, nude man on the floor of the bathroom, which turns out to be Mr. Harper. Inside the bathtub was the juvenile, young man and his father,” said Metz. “The child was screaming that the suspect, Mr. Harper, had assaulted him and gave graphic details about what happened to him.”
Harper has an extensive and violent background. Investigators say the suspect and the Black family were unknown to each other, despite the fact that they lived across the street from one another.
“Mr. Harper was killed by Mr. Black,” said Metz.
Metz went onto explain the employment history of the officer involved in the shooting with the Aurora Police Department.
“He’s going to be on administrative leave for a while,” said Metz.
The officer who shot and killed Black was recently in a deadly shooting on June 27 on East Colfax Avenue.
“Our hearts go out to them (Black family) and we want to give them what we need,” said Metz.
Metz also said that he disputes the mention that his officers acted recklessly.