EDITORIAL: Time for Aurora police to talk about Vinzant shooting

By handling the investigation of this incident this way, Aurora police squander and undermine the good will the community has, and that police here have rightfully earned.

Time’s up, Aurora police. Almost two weeks ago, a north Aurora neighborhood was turned upside down when a SWAT team arrest of a parolee went bad, and the unarmed man was shot to death by police.

And after almost two weeks and what have certainly been hundreds of police-hours of investigation — nothing.

Although officials released the name of the man they shot, Naeschylus Vinzant, the next day, it wasn’t even police who released the name. That came from the coroner’s office. And that was about all the public got for more than a week. It took that long to release the name of the officer who fired the lethal shot, Paul Jerothe, with the department since 2006.

After that announcement late last week, nothing more. The case has been moved to the Jefferson County district attorney’s office to avoid a possible conflict of interest. Jerothe may be working with the Arapahoe County DA on the Aurora theater shooting trial. Two weeks after the shooting, the community knows next to nothing. Two weeks after an arrest on a neighborhood street near a school turned into a shooting scene, nothing?

It’s time to talk. What we do know is that Aurora just got a new police chief, Nick Metz, and that Metz said all the right things during his own trial by fire just days after he started. In an atmosphere where police shooting unarmed black people has caused untold havoc across the country, the police shooting of an unarmed black man right here in Aurora isn’t just your average police incident.

Clearly Metz appreciates that, saying that he wants to ensure that an investigation reveals an accurate accounting to the public.  But even if Vinzant had been white and armed to the teeth, police must reveal enough detail for the public to understand what happened. Making this kind of information public isn’t a choice, it’s a legal obligation.  Everyone understands the need to keep some details secret as prosecutors sort out the need to either press for charges or clear Jerothe. But to say that revealing basic details about the incident would spoil the investigation and a potential case is a load of hooey. Sitting on public information under the guise of “active investigation” is a bad habit by police agencies across the country that’s now become a national epidemic, one that state lawmakers here need to address. Prosecutors might have persuaded Metz and police total secrecy is called for to protect “the case,” but it’s not.

Revealing after two weeks and this intensive of an investigation whether the shooting was accidental, or whether the officer fired to either prevent Vinzant from fleeing or in fear of being attacked is enough for the community to determine what it should do in the absence of a response by leaders.

When someone at one protest said that Vinzant was handcuffed when he was shot, police immediately said it was untrue. Answering to a charge like that and saying nothing else paints the police as coy and cagey. Public information shouldn’t be a game of 20 questions.

This isn’t Ferguson, Missouri. But there are lots of black residents, and others, who are uneasy with all police, including our own. By handling the investigation of this incident this way, Aurora police squander and undermine the good will the community has, and that police here have rightfully earned.

Metz should appear with Jefferson County prosecutors to outline at least major details of the shooting and explain to the public why such an investigation should cloud the public’s understanding. Officials must explain what the plan and schedule is to provide a full explanation, and possible action.

But shrugging off the legal and moral obligation to make basic details public because the incident is “under investigation,” this long after the shooting, doesn’t cut it.

  • gofastgo

    ‘Revealing after two weeks and this
    intensive of an investigation whether the shooting was accidental, or
    whether the officer fired to either prevent Vinzant from fleeing or in
    fear of being attacked is enough for the community to determine what it
    should do in the absence of a response by leaders’.

    What does this even mean? That the community will now make the rules on how to handle dangerous individuals being arrested by the authorties? Are you nuts? This guy was a B U M and a thug, 20 year criminal history, cut off his monitoring ankle bracelet, wanted for kidnapping too, and ‘the community wants to know if the shooting was warranted’? Really?

    • Danieljs

      It means that government employees are accountable to the public. If a government employee kills another citizen they have a responsibility to tell us why. I don’t understand why you think it’s ok for the government to kill citizens without giving an explanation.

      • gofastgo

        VA Hospital, $1.3 BILLION over budget, more important, the IRS targeting of conservative groups, more important, the Benghazi investigation, more important, Fast & Furious gun running, more important, Bergdahl swap for 5 terrorists, more important, ALL of these are ‘government employees’, many issues today are much more important to me than some bum getting shot while trying to resist, also more important to me are the victims of the Aurora theater massacre, not his ‘fair trial’ being paraded as just. Our ‘right to know’ has greater consequence on every issue I’ve brought up than the thug in Ferguson, and this piece of human garbage.

        • Danieljs

          So… now you change the subject. When a government employee kills a citizen they are required to tell us why. None of that other stuff changes that.

          • gofastgo

            No, it’s the same ‘government employees’ you’re talking about, ALL of those I mentioned are more important to me, and should be to you.

          • Retiree

            But that’s not what this editorial is about! Take your meds! Try to keep your hate and rage in focus.

          • gofastgo

            Dopey, please allow your liberal ass to concentrate for a moment and read what I replied to:

            Danieljs

            gofastgo

            2 hours ago

            ‘It means that government employees are accountable to the public’

          • Retiree

            I said . . . . Take your meds!!

        • loretta

          first of all, IRS DID NOT unfairly target conservative groups. The investigation of this proved that many other groups were investigated. Fast and Furious was started under
          Pres. George Bush.
          This matter might not be important to you, but it is obviously important to many
          other people.
          To bring up issues that are false and not germane to this story isn’t productive, nor
          quite frankly intelligent on your part.

          • gofastgo

            Not false at all. HOLDER ran the Fast and Furious operation, and the ‘other groups’ the IRS investigated you speak of, were at a 10 to 1 ratio, lopsided, even you would agree.

            You’re correct about issue, I could care less about felons and people who cut off monitoring bracelets (that’s what the guy did who murdered Clements, recall?) Don’t believe everything you hear on ‘your’ news, they tell you what they want you to believe. ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot’ even your panderer Holder couldn’t find evidence to support that, because it was not true.

          • Retiree

            I think you’ll find that Fast & Furious was an operation that started during the GW Bush administration. Check your facts.

          • Frank2525

            No, you check your facts. Two completely different operations, for two completely different reasons. Guns walking, and Money laundering needed to be stopped, and identifying those who bought guns-ammo- to smuggle across border did put a crimp in that program during Bush years. Fast and Furious started later and for entirely different reasons. (see my prior post on this). Also Judical Watch is producing a lot of stone-walling and surprising evidence of this administration ‘having suspicious computer crashes’. But the files still exist, same as Ollie North found years ago. I cannot believe the naïve high level officials who are not computer literate. Thinking that deleting messages removes them from hard drives. DUH!!!!!!!

          • Retiree

            “At the time, under the Bush administration Department of Justice (DOJ), no arrests or indictments were made. After President Barack Obama took office in 2009, the DOJ reviewed Wide Receiver and found that guns had been allowed into the hands of suspected gun traffickers. Indictments began in 2010, over three years after Wide Receiver concluded. As of October 4, 2011, nine people had been charged with making false statements in acquisition of firearms and illicit transfer, shipment or delivery of firearms.[23] As of November, charges against one defendant had been dropped; five of them had pled guilty, and one had been sentenced to one year and one day in prison. Two of them remained fugitives.[31]’

          • Frank2525

            That statement puts you in class of ‘I want justice now, or with the hands up crowd.” When straw buyers were determine in Wide Receiver, the DA do not immediately indict since that warns other wane be straw buyers they will be caught too, and the lawyers wait until they have every morsel of info (just as momma saying he was a good boy/girl, and they would never do something like that. When have you seen police arrest someone locally, DA indicts the next day, and trial starts next week? Give me a break. Lawyers don’t make any money if they gave that kind of justice, which you seem to imply. They drag it out as long as judge, and the system will allow, and take as many bites of the apple as they can. Will give you example you can consider: Fast and Furious has been over, since exposed. When do you think you will see indictments, and trials in that case? If you know, you know more than I do.

          • Frank2525

            Why is that so important to you, Loretta? If you knew all of the actors in that saga, I can see why it would make for good gossip over coffee, or some other event. But when we don’t know any of them, the investigation is handled by a different police agency to prevent home-grown cover-up, we have to wait for official report. And it gives time for the hot heads who have nothing else to do, to find something else to get excited over, and go elsewhere. Also Fast and Furious started and ended in this administration. George W. Bush had a different program run by DHS and Border Agents , in which they were encouraging gun dealers to find out who was buying guns, to smuggle across the border. Those were identified weapons and ammunition, with reports to Sheriffs and Border Patrol agents, and stopped before crossing the border, hence all the photos in papers of ‘straw buyers’ arrested and guns-ammo recovered. And cooperation across border with Mexico, if some did get across the border, were caught by Mexican police and military. Again photos and stories in papers. That project stopped before administration changed, and Fast and Furious was designed to get guns-ammo to drug cartels in Mexico, and the results would help pass ‘gun control bills within US, to take guns from citizens’. If you don’t know that difference, then you did not keep track. My neighbor in Aurora, had 2 uncles and a younger brother shot (assassinated) in Mexico because they would not pay extortion to the drug cartel there. I met those 3 men the summer before, when they visited here, so I took that personally. My neighbors (husband and wife)had green cards, and working to become citizens. That devastated them.

          • lalamom

            You are wrong. As others have pointed out different program with different intent and different outcome. Quit blaming Bush for all of obamas failures and lawlessness.

        • Frank2525

          I am going to agree with you, gofastgo. Your topics are a lot more important to me, since all of them effect me as a citizen, 85 years of age, 26 years of military service, and I resent release of murdering-terrorists leaders, to return to killing and injuring our military. While our so-called leaders stone-wall, and change the way we live because they know what is best for all of us. Local problems will be reported and prosecuted, or completed in good time. And we don’t need the rabble-rousing demonstrations, and burning or destroying our city in the process. Justice is best served, when complete investigation reveals the truth. Mob justice is never fair, or complete.

          • gofastgo

            Great minds think alike. Of course, being a bit more long in the tooth helps too Frank. Even when investigation shows no crime, if certain groups don’t what they consider ‘just’, they start burning and looting, the ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ was proven to be a lie, but it sounded good to them, something the wanted to hear, another ’cause’ for injustice in their minds. Our country and the world, are becoming very dangerous and vile places, causes, religious zealots, extremists, school shootings, little discipline in our public schools, any behavior accepted and tolerated, coddled, ‘rehabilitated’, all of these are factors as to why. Sad, our childhoods were kinder, gentler times I recall with fondness.

      • lalamom

        You were not involved so therefore you don’t deserve or need an explanation. By your statements you won’t care anyway as it seems you have already made up your mind.

        • Danieljs

          Which statements are you referring to?

    • nancy

      yeah — REALLY! our community has the RIGHT to know about all officer involved shootings
      whether you agree or not.

      • gofastgo

        What we ‘should’ know Nancy, is that there are bad people out there and the police protect us from them, starting to get the picture? The marchers and protesters have no idea of what’s going on, they see themselves as ‘victims’ and ‘unfairly treated’, when what most of the are, are ‘dependent’

    • Arturomac2

      gofastgo – This MAN, HUMAN BEING you call a “BUM” was also a SON, FATHER, HUSBAND and FRIEND. Did he make mistakes – yes – we all do. Let s/he among us who has not made a mistake cast the first stone. Were the mistakes he made punishable by death – no. The authorities need to answer for punishing this MAN, HUMAN BEING far beyond the sentance he was given by a court of law. It is not an answer they owe him – he’s dead – beyond caring. It is owed to his FAMILY, FRIENDS and COMMUNITY MEMBERS who did nothing to warrant the fear and grief that hangs over their hearts and heads. You have the right not to care. You even have the right to express that lack of caring at the top of your lungs and in capital letters. Some of us DO care and it would be nice if people like you would put your stones away and let us get the answers we care about. I’m sure there are forums about the issues you care about where your stones will be better served.

      • gofastgo

        He wasn’t much of a son, and as a father and husband, he failed miserably. 20 year arrest records leads one to believe he didn’t achieve much (I don’t consider having a bunch of kids an achievement) had any work record to speak of, and a ‘friend’ to just whom? And what did he do for those friends? Friendship is a ‘give and take’ proposition, I don’t throw the word ‘friend’ around casually, as you apparently are doing here sir.

        Oh, I’ve made mistakes, learned from them, and made sure I didn’t make them again, this guy didn’t, and when you get the story you so desperately want to hear, you’ll hear your ‘friend’ didn’t do as told, (*of course he didn’t as told much did he?) was surrounded by the police, acted out, and was shot. But, you won’t like that version, your version will be ‘the police shot a handcuffed man’, go for a bit of low-hanging fruit from the city. I need no ‘answer’ from the authorities for this upstanding citizen, and you only want to hear the police were wrong, they were not.

    • Porscha Dennis

      Gofastgo,
      First before speaking on facts without proper information and making assumptions as to the cutting of an ankle monitor which I agree is dead wrong, however the kidnapping and other charges are not as they seem. Without the full story you shouldn’t speak on what is reported by media or other social outlets even the police departments. Question is it kidnapping when you are recovering a sibling, cousin, grandchild, child etc..?

      • gofastgo

        What we do have, are what was reported to the media outlets, based on that, (you and I, have no other means on which to base our comments) with his 20 years arrest record, no work record, involved in many nefarious acts, seemed to be a person who had no regard for the law, rules of any kind, or the authorities. He was surrounded by at minimum, 10 police officers, and one of them shot him. Do you think, based on the information given, he was being cooperative?, or combative? The officer involved in the shooting isn’t a guy with a dubious incidents on his record, his record is clean of such acts. So who do I side with, well, ‘law and order’ not 20 years of criminal activity and lawless behavior.

  • Doxology

    Gofastgo has a great solution to the overpopulation problem! Just shoot and kill any person deemed a “bum” or a “thug.” (Or, perhaps, any person of a certain color?) Scary, scary, scary. Silence is dangerous. The public has a right to know what happened. Regardless of past actions, no person of a certain race should have to live in fear of being shot and killed while unarmed. Thank you, Dave Perry, for calling for the truth.

    • ezaspie

      Don’t worry about gofast he is an actual racist. He aligns himself with a guy who thinks blacks do not have the same mental capacity as whites. He then goes on to say “There are some blacks, like yourself, who are upstanding citizens, but, overall, the majority of blacks are not.” It’s just a racist mindset that I really do not think can be broken. Less than 1% of blacks, or about 3% of black males, will commit a violent crime in any given year.

      • gofastgo

        That’s correct, you won’t allow yourself to admit the same.

    • gofastgo

      I wouldn’t care who this person was, 20 year criminal history, wanted for kidnapping, cut off monitoring device, no job, no value whatsoever, white, black or purple, if he resisted, and I’m sure he did, and was shot, so be it.

      • Danieljs

        You are sure of something despite a complete lack of evidence. Glad to see you admit that you are not tethered to reality.

      • Porscha Dennis

        Gofastgo,
        The person you are speaking of is my cousin aside from that fact, it has not mattered in other cases involving Aurora Police department the crimes that the person previously committed and the fact that they were being arrested for an even more inglorious crime than my late cousin they were not shot and killed unarmed. For instance the person who incited the 2012 theater shooting which this officer was involved in, also countless other cases involving individuals wanted for murders. Resisting arrest is not a reason to shot and kill an unarmed man. If the police were allowed to shot and kill every unarmed individual who resisted arrest then maybe some of your own family members would not be alive.

  • Doxology

    Ezaspie, thanks for enlightening me about gofastgo. But isn’t it our obligation to speak out against racism instead of remaining silent? Must we not raise our voices against injustices and hatred and do everything in our power to eradicate ignorance and racism, by never ignoring it? Thank you.

    • ezaspie

      I agree and I do, see above. Just don’t let him get to you. Also at least he admits he is racist. I think most of the racist comments here come from people unwilling to admit it was based on race.

      • lalamom

        You are part of the problem jumping to the conclusion that he was shot simply because the cop is a racist. You know nothing about him. Statements and attitudes like yours only fuel the paranoia and false statements and reactions. Just shut up and and wait for an accurate portrayal to be come out.

        • ezaspie

          You are the problem with America. Someone too lazy to read 6 sentences, instead just assumes he knows what he is talking about. I have never once said the cop was a racist or that he deserves charges. I was clearly talking about gofastgo you. Unless gofastgo was the officer that shot this guy. Why don’t you read, know what you are typing about before you continue to assume making an as s out of yourself.

          • lalamom

            I did read your comments stating “comments here come from people unwilling to admit it was based on race”. It doesn’t get any more clear that you have already determined the cop shot only because he is a racist. You are the problem. Blaming race regardless of the truth.

          • ezaspie

            It’s right above the words you typed. Is it really that insane inside your head? Copy paste so simple, come on fella get with the future. The thing in front of you is called a computer.

            “I think most of the racist comments here come from people unwilling to admit it was based on race.”

            Let me break this down for you since you seem to have a major reading comprehension problem. Is there something wrong with you? Can you read words for words without putting your crazy spin on them? I was talking about racist comments. Not about the cop. I don’t think the cop was racist, but you sure have a chip on your shoulder. Get a grip.

          • lalamom

            Why don’t you read what you write. You are quite clearly racist against whites and have hate toward cops.

          • lalamom

            People who expect special treatment because of their skin color are what is wrong with country.

  • JC

    It took months for all of the details to be revealed in the Ferguson shooting, so maybe we shouldn’t rush to judgement without knowing all of the facts. This isn’t an episode of CSI where it’s all wrapped up in one episode. Physical evidence has to be carefully examined, lab tests take time, confirming witness statements, the officer’s account, follow-up interviews. I believe the APD is doing this right. The the last thing you want is for the narrative to change several times before all of the facts have been put together.
    The sequence of events will be revealed. Yes, it is hardest on the families of those involved, but it is better to be patient and get it right the first time. I am glad there isn’t much news coverage, with some in the media making assumptions based on incomplete information. Time should not indicate anything other than a thorough investigation, a deliberate review of the law and how it applies in this case.