A man gallantly protected his family from an intruder but his heroic exploits were put to waste when he met a tragic end himself due to an unfortunate case of mistaken identity.
Officers responded to an Aurora, Colorado home around 1:30 Monday morning. The officers heard gunshots emanating from inside the home.
Aurora Police Department Chief Nick Metz said that officers saw a dead body lying on the bathroom floor when they entered the house. The officers simply assumed then that he was a victim of the home invasion.
Metz admitted that the officers next saw Richard “Gary” Black, 73, standing in the living room, armed. The officers mistakenly assumed he was the suspect, and shot him.
In their defense, however, the officers claimed there was much yelling when they arrived at the scene of the incident. Several people were standing outside the home, including Black’s wife. She even told the officers, “he has a gun”, presumably referring to the invader.
The officers heard gunshots coming from the house. When they saw Black, he had a gun in one hand and a flashlight in the other. The officers were then 15 to 20 feet from Black. They said they then commanded Black to drop the weapon and put his hands up several times.
Metz said: “We don’t know why, but for whatever reason, Mr. Black did not drop the gun.”
Metz said that instead, Black raised the flashlight he was holding and an officer fired four rounds at him.
The intruder identified as 26-year-old Dajon Harper was attending a party across the street when he started acting irrationally. It was not clear if he was intoxicated, but he started damaging cars nearby. He also hurt himself.
After leaving the party, he went to the Blacks’ residence. Then naked, Harper continuously knocked on the Blacks’ door, eventually knocking it off its hinges. The Blacks - Richard, his wife Jeanette and their 11-year-old grandson - were all asleep at the time.
The APD report said that upon entering the Blacks’ home, Harper went after the grandson and dragged him into the bathroom where Mertz would only say the boy was “violently assaulted.” That’s also the plea for help that 911 got from Jeanette - that the boy was being attacked in the bathroom by an invader and that “there was blood everywhere.”
Black was brought to the University of Colorado Hospital but expired from the gunshot wounds he sustained. It was revealed that he was a recipient of The Purple Heart award for his time in the Vietnam war.
The shooting of Black is now being investigated by the APD, the Denver Police Department and the 17th and 18th District Attorney’s Offices. The officer who killed Black has been placed on paid administrative leave.
The name of the officer who shot Black is being withheld for his protection. Metz said he is also a veteran, who has been with the department for three years with no prior internal complaints.
The same officer, however, was involved in another fatal shooting on June 27. He returned to work about two and a half weeks later, even as the investigation continued.
The Blacks will be represented in court by Colorado-based law firm Rathod Mohamedbhai, LLC.