AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) — One of the three Aurora police officers involved in the encounter with Elijah McClain has been fired. The Aurora Police Association confirmed Jason Rosenblatt was terminated Friday — effective immediately. The APA says Rosenblatt “had no part in the taking or distribution of the photos” and said the photos were sent to him months after they were first taken.
Interim Chief Vanessa Wilson said Rosenblatt responded to the photos with a message stating, “Haha.”
All three officers in the photos were fired Friday.
The APA openly voiced their displeasure about the department’s investigation — saying it violated the officers’ right to due process. The APA called it “a rush to judgement.”
“This internal investigation was conducted in an unprecedented fashion,” the APA stated. “All of the officers involved were ordered to give interviews on very short notice, without proper preparation, outside of their normal work hours, had their phones confiscated and downloaded, and then were given an abbreviated and defective file review process.”
The APA says the interim police chief denied each officer the option for an Internal Review Board.
“A standard internal affairs case takes several months. This case took 9 days. This investigation is a rush to judgement,” the APA stated.
The APA speculated that interim Chief Wilson was driven to make the decision because she wants the permanent job.
“It appears that Interim Chief Wilson’s participation in the chief selection process drove her decision making in this case. The appearance of impropriety is obvious,” the APA stated. “By her actions today, Interim Chief Wilson has demonstrated that she is unfit for the position that she currently holds and should be dropped from the final slate of candidates to be the next Chief of the Aurora Police Department.”
Chief Wilson said Friday she had the right to expedite the investigation.
On Friday, the mother of Elijah McClain and Attorney Mari Newman were shown two photos of Aurora police officers reenacting the chokehold used on McClain, who later died. Newman told CBS4 the officers were in uniform — and they were smiling.
The Aurora Police Department says the photos were taken months after the incident, in October 2019.
The officer in the center of the photos, Jaron Jones, submitted his resignation to the chief on Thursday.
Two other officers named in the photo investigation, which were taken near the memorial for McClain, were given until Friday morning to resign, accept the interim chief’s discipline or fight for their jobs. CBS4’s Brian Maass learned one female and one male officer were also seen in the photos with Jones.
The three officers involved in the incident surrounding McClain’s death were removed from patrol duty in June.
The interim police chief is scheduled to speak about the photo scandal at 2 p.m. The event will be live-streamed on Twitter (@AuroraPD). APD headquarters are fenced off and boarded up, in anticipation of weekend protests.
After the APD news conference, members of McClain’s family and the community will gather honor his memory and to express their outrage at the City of Aurora. They plan to meet at the intersection of Evergreen and Billings in Aurora, where the incident occurred.