By Brian Maass

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – A CBS4 investigation has found Aurora police officers twice walked away from arresting a 47-year-old man who was terrorizing residents of an apartment complex, even after the man allegedly exposed himself to kids, threw a rock through one resident’s sliding glass door, was delusional, was tasered by police and forced the rescue of two other residents from a second floor room in an apartment he had ransacked.

(credit: CBS)

“I totally understand that there’s people that were, that felt like they were abandoned,” said Aurora Police Deputy Chief Darin Parker.

The suspect in the case — Robert Thompson, 47 — has a 10 page criminal record including violent assaults, drug charges, burglary, criminal mischief and resisting arrest. But Thompson’s friend, Leander Mccoy, agreed to allow Thompson to stay at his apartment in late August.

The trouble began Sept. 2 when police were called to the apartments at 16130 East 17th Place after Thompson allegedly exposed himself to children in the area and threw a rock through a neighbor’s sliding glass door.

Police arrived and said when they made contact with Thompson, he “appeared to be delusional but was not hurting himself or others at the time,” according to a police summary obtained by CBS4. Aurora police declined to release their official reports citing an ongoing investigation. The summary, however, says after police had lengthy conversations with Thompson, “It was determined that we would walk away and obtain a warrant for the charges.”

“He exposed himself to some girls,” Mccoy told CBS4. “They (the police) left. I thought it was the craziest thing I’ve seen in my life. I expected him to go to jail.”

Mccoy’s girlfriend, Lisa Raffa, was equally surprised. “How do you do something like that and not go to jail?” she asked. “I don’t get it.”

The next day, Sept. 3, Aurora police were again called to the apartment complex. According to the internal police summary, “The male was now outside with a golf club and spray can spraying a car.”

(credit: CBS)

He had ransacked Mccoy’s apartment smashing numerous items. Police said Thompson was “completely uncooperative” and retreated back into the apartment. They attempted to taser Thompson inside the apartment but Thompson, who again appeared delusional to police, shut himself in a bedroom. The Aurora fire department was summoned and using one of their ladders, police evacuated Raffa and a man from a second floor bedroom.

Police wrote, “We were unable to gain cooperation (from Thompson) so we walked away. We will work with detectives to expedite a warrant for this person.”

Raffa told CBS4 she was “petrified” with fear of Thompson and had to spend the night with a relative.

“He destroyed everything I had that was breakable. They tased him then they left when they should have arrested him. There’s a man in our house trying to do whatever damage he can do with a golf club and he’s not stable and you just leave? I’m speechless, I’m speechless. I don’t know what to say,” said Raffa.

Mccoy was equally stunned that police walked away a second time.

“I was standing right there and I’m like, ‘What are you guys doing?’ and they said they were told to stand down and they left. Bottom line is they left us to deal with it by ourselves and that’s kind of crazy.”

Deputy Chief Parker said, “We’re trying to get the situation resolved with the least amount of escalation, the least amount of confrontation as we can.”

He said police presence on the scene seemed to agitate Thompson. Parker also explained his belief that had police taken more aggressive action and tried to take Thompson into custody, it could have led to the use of deadly force. He said escalation could have led to Thompson being hurt or killed and officers potentially being injured.

Jim Ponzi, a Denver police lieutenant and professor of criminal justice said he doesn’t like to second guess police tactics, but in this case, “I would not have left the guy two successive days, probably not even after the first call.”

Ponzi said leaving Thompson at the apartment complex could have led to the suspect “seriously hurting himself or other people. It was a serious call to begin with since it involved a child.”

Late in the day on Sept. 4, Aurora police returned to the area for a third time, this time taking Thompson into custody without incident.

“I believe the officers’ decisions and command officers’ decisions were correct in this case and were supported by the outcome,” said Parker. “I will tell you I believe we got this one right. Risk assessment is an imperfect science but in this case we got it right.”

Ponzi said, “A win is often defined by you did something you shouldn’t have done but it turned out alright.”

Mccoy said he is still puzzled by the Aurora police tactics.

“This is a nice safe neighborhood and they deserve better from the protect and defend guys.”

Deputy Chief Parker said Aurora police would have acted the same way if the same incident had occurred in a more upscale area of Aurora. Asked if he thought the outcome of the Elijah McClain case impacted police strategy, Parker said, “I don’t think it would be inaccurate to say officers are thinking about how they’re handling situations now … what could happen in a situation, and I got to tell you I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. Learning from situations that happened in the past whether it’s our agency or others is not a bad thing.”

Thompson is being held in the Adams County jail on charges of felony burglary, five counts of misdemeanor indecent exposure, criminal mischief, obstructing police and reckless endangerment — all related to his alleged actions Sept. 2 and 3. Bond has been set at $10,000.

Brian Maass

Comments (16)
  1. Rob M says:

    Rioters got their “change” to policing, and legislature helped by making local police personally liable. When the taser doesn’t work and you can’t use a choke hold, walk away to avoid deadly force. Makes sense. Way to go BLM!

  2. PetePete says:

    you get what you vote for. have fun demonrats

  3. Charles Bronson says:

    If the police abdicate their responsibility the option no one is talking about could be a citizen response. A man exposes himself to someones daughter any many parts of the country exposed himself to a very deadly response. That is why we have police so “death wish” does not play out in real life.

    1. Tony Rains says:

      Defending yourself in dem run states is not an option. You will be arrested and charged. The dems brought this on themselves. Congratulations to the Aurora PD for being smart.

  4. SE6 says:

    There’s your defunded police. Have fun with it.

  5. Haora Reid says:

    Another possible outcome of the Aurora Police officers action of not immediately arresting Thompson could be that the general public… especially those who are so critical of police who use real force when trying to arrest a violent person who in turn is using all his strength and fighting ability to prevent them taking him into custody.
    Its a real fight with no holds barred as far as the offender is concerned and often the police have to use equal or greater strength to make the arrest.
    So they are Damned if they do and Damned if they don’t… use the force or actions needed to prevent them from being beat up… or worse.
    So by walking away from making the arrest if it looks dangerous or likely to have serious injury or similar consequences for them, or the person being arrested… until they obtain an official warrant of arrest… they are allowing the public to see what happens when they do not stop things from happening.
    Thus before long it should become obvious to anyone, that they actually play a very important role in maintaining a safe environment for the public at large.
    And then possibly the public at large will begin supporting them rather than “Hanging them” for essentially taking whatever action is required to arrest someone when the person they are arresting is fighting them with intent to injure or worse in order to escape.
    Yes odd ones allow their blood to boil and show their feelings by booting or punching a violently resisting would-be-prisoner. But the “eye for an eye” rule sometimes has to be applied… especially when the person being arrested is extremely violent.
    It doesn’t happen when people cooperate by holding out their hands ready for handcuffs to be fitted and adjusted for the most comfortable fit
    So hopefully this peaceful protest by the Aurora Policemen will be noticed and will highlight the situation that Policemen and women often find themselves in these days. ie. To be or not to be…damned.

    1. 1gandydancer says:

      Not accepting that excuse. They’re still collecting a paycheck to do their job, not to go on strike until they get a free pass from criticism. Someone needs to get fired over this, maybe the police chief or maybe the mayor if approval for this goes that high.

      1. Tony Rains says:

        gandy, The APD made the correct call. That’s it.

      2. Steve in Aurora says:

        The Aurora police chief reports to the Aurora city manager, Jim Twombly, who reports to the mayor. Part of the problem is the very liberal city council members such as Angela Lawson, Juan Marcano, Allison Hiltz, Alison Coombs, Nicole Johnston and Crystal Murillo. The last four are graduates of the progressive Emerge Colorado organization.

        Alison Coombs went on Facebook and unapologetically expressed her disdain for the police by using vile, profane language. Aurora city council members have also participated in the ICE protest and protests at the Aurora city offices.

        The SB 217 bill made police officers personally liable for any use of force and every use of force incident is reported and reviewed, which makes one reluctant to use force. It’s easier to walk away. Plus Arapahoe County Jail may not take them when arrested anyway, since they won’t take anyone with a bond of less than $10,000.

        Police officers need the support of their leadership and city council and authorities. Ask any officer if they have that now.

    2. 1gandydancer says:

      Wikipedia says the “Elected officer responsible” for the Aurora PD is Mike Coffman, Mayor of Aurora.
      He’s a Republican.

      1. Tony Rains says:

        gandy, I’m glad the mayor made that decision regardless which party he’s from. The police have targets on their backs thanks to blm supporters. It’s karma baby.

  6. 125 says:

    What is anyone surprised about? This is what the blm and Aurora City Council wanted. If more outraged citizens would back the police and stop sitting on the sideline, the spineless command staff of APD will be forced to let the Officers handle calls like they want to. If any of you think an Officer on scene didn’t not want to take action, you’re delusional.

  7. Lou Sullivan says:

    No surprise here. It’s Aurora PD. Worst in the state.

  8. Pogue Mahone says:

    Black Lies Matter, Black Lies Matter, The gutless incompetent Aurora PD should be disbanded and replaced by the Sheriffs Departments. Aurora PD obviously has no Adult leadership.

  9. John says:

    LT. Ponzi would never have made LT. in today’s policing environment. Going hands on with a black suspect today is putting you life and job on the line. I have been in three officer involved shootings I had to fire in and 3 I didn’t have to fire. I thank God every day the suspects I shot were white.

  10. TomTancredoFan says:

    What this article deftly dances around is the color of the miscreant. If he had been white the cops would’ve arrested him immediately the first time. This scenario will be repeated thousands of times across the country to appease BLM. Their organization’s aim is to make the police second guess themselves to the point that the laws will be applied to everyone else but blacks.

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