JEFFERSON COUNTY - A grand jury has decided to not indict an Aurora Police Officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man wanted for absconding from parole.
The conclusion means Officer Paul Jerothe, known for his heroism during the Aurora theater shooting, will not face trial in the shooting that killed 37-year-old Naeschylus Carter.
"This is an incredibly tragic situation for everybody involved ... everybody involved," Chief of Police Nick Metz said. "There isn't any one person from Mr. Carter's family or the officer's family and the officer himself who hasn't been incredibly impacted by all this. This is not something that we take lightly."
Carter, who had a criminal record, removed his ankle monitor and was fatally shot when Aurora Police tried to arrest him on March 6.
According to the grand jury's report, Carter made a jerking movement as if he was armed with a weapon just before being shot.
The report also cites an email from APD's Fugitive Apprehension and Surveillance Team (FAST) that was sent to arresting officers, including Jerothe, before the encounter. The email warned officers about Carter's violent past.
"On a side note, we arrested him back in 09/2013," the email said. "Drugs were found on him and he told [the FAST sergeant] if he would have had a gun he would have shot it out with us or words to that effect ..."
You can find the grand jury's full report here: http://bit.ly/1mRL9ri.
The Aurora Police Department says that after the shooting, the Aurora Police Department Internal Affairs Bureau opened a case file on the incident and the investigation was put on hold pending the outcome of the grand jury decision. Since the decision not to indict Officer Jerothe has been made, Aurora Police say a thorough review and examination of the incident will begin.
"We want to assure our community and our officers that we will always conduct thorough reviews and investigations of our actions," Metz said. "We will do our best to learn from those actions, and we'll take appropriate steps to rectify anything that we may need to do better next time."
The Carter family released a statement regarding the grand jury's decision on Wednesday afternoon:
The family of Naeschylus Carter is deeply saddened by the decision of the Arapahoe County grand jury not to indict Aurora Police Officer Paul Jerothe, who killed Naeschylus on March 6, 2015. Naeschylus was a beloved member of his family who did not deserve to die how or when he did. The family continues to mourn Naeschylus's death, seek justice, and hold hope that this tragedy can somehow result in positive change for the community.
The Carter family recognizes that Naeschylus is but one person on an ever-growing list of unarmed victims of police-related killings whose families have been let down by the grand jury process. The tragic deaths of individuals like Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice have shed light on the deeply rooted problem of unchecked police abuse that is so prevalent in minority communities. The Carter family must similarly look beyond the grand jury for other lawful means for justice and progress.
The Carter family expresses extreme gratitude for the support they have received over the past ten months. They ask that the community continue to demonstrate its solidarity through lawful, peaceful, and productive means. The Carter family will continue to stand with the families of other fallen victims as we continue to fight for a society and nation where equal justice is a reality.
Officer Jerothe will stay in a non-enforcement role pending the outcome of the investigation.
Protests occurred in Aurora over the shooting. Jerothe is white. Carter was black.
"Police departments and police officers are charged with protecting the Constitutional rights of our citizens," Metz said. "Part of that is protecting people's free speech, the First Amendment. So, if folks want to come and express their First Amendment rights, we will do everything in our authority to protect them to be able to do that freely. Of course we hope that will remain peaceful."
The Jefferson County District Attorney's Office was asked to review the shooting because of a conflict of interest in Arapahoe County.
(© 2015 KUSA)