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Teen was armed with pellet gun when shot by officer, police say

Jor'Dell Richardson, 14, was shot June 1 after officers responded to the robbery of a store, according to police.

AURORA, Colo. — A teen who was fatally shot by an Aurora officer was armed with a pellet gun, the Aurora Police Department (APD) said Friday. 

APD released body-worn camera footage related to the fatal shooting of 14-year-old Jor'Dell Richardson.

After giving a detailed timeline of events from the June 1 incident at a news conference at police headquarters, Police Chief Art Acevedo presented footage from two officers' body cameras. 

The videos depict a rapidly developing situation in which two police officers chase Jor'Dell down an alley and tackle him.

Content Warning: This video shows the moments surrounding a Jor'Dell's death and could be disturbing to some viewers. It also contains strong language.

Shortly before one of the officers, identified Friday as Roch Gruszeczka, fires his weapon, Jor'Dell can be heard saying "Stop please, you got me."

Gruszeczka is simultaneously yelling at Jor'Dell to let go of the gun and says that he will shoot him. He then fired a single round that struck Jor'Dell's abdomen. 

Officers threw away what turned out to be a pellet gun, and performed CPR until paramedics arrived.

Jor'Dell later died.     

Acevedo stated the pellet gun was an exact replica of a 9 mm handgun, and showed side-by-side photographs illustrating the similarity between the two. 

"That is not a toy. That is a weapon," Acevedo said. "That's the weapon we found on his person. God bless him. What's the purpose of this? What role do these play? We have a 14-year-old killed dead."

"I am beside myself with anger because there is another Black woman who is about to bury her son ... another one," Acevedo added.

The officers chased Jor'Dell after one officer with APD's gang unit saw a group of teens wearing medical masks and hoodies approaching a liquor store near East 8th Avenue and North Dayton Street. Thinking it was suspicious, he called for other gang officers to respond and investigate.

Police said that moments later, the teens ran from the store after robbing it of several vape canisters. Officers learned that at least one of them had threatened the clerk with a firearm. Police said that was Jor'Dell, who displayed the pellet gun to the clerk by pulling up his shirt.

Jor'Dell's family held their own news conference outside APD headquarters after police concluded theirs. An attorney representing Jor'Dell's family spoke, followed by Jor'Dell's parents. 

The attorney, Siddhartha Rathod, said APD wants the community to believe that Jor'Dell deserved to die. 

"We need the equal right to make mistakes and live and breathe," he said. "Our Black and brown children have to have the ability to make mistakes. And have the same opportunities to surrender and not be shot, but to breathe. And Jor'Dell was denied that right."

Jor'Dell's mother, Laurie Littlejohn, said her son deserved another chance.

"To know that the police didn't even think twice that he was a child and that he's human," she said. "People make mistakes. They didn't give him a chance to redeem himself, to suffer the consequences for his actions and to be able to move on. In life we make mistakes so that we can grow. They took that from my son." 

Gruszeczka has been placed on paid administrative leave in accordance with agency policy while an outside law enforcement group investigates. An Internal Affairs Bureau investigation is also underway.

APD said Gruszeczka has been with the department since 2017 and has served with the gang unit since 2019.

Credit: Family attorney
Jor'Dell Richardson

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