AURORA, Colo. — Jor'Dell Richardson would have started high school in the fall. He had an older brother and younger sister who he loved. His mother said he was athletic and goofy, and was excited about his future.
Richardson was shot and killed by an Aurora police officer on June 1 after allegedly robbing a convenience store.
The reporting party told officers Richardson showed them a weapon in his waistband. During a press conference eight days after the shooting, Interim Police Chief Art Acevedo said the weapon was determined to be a pellet gun.
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The video from the responding officers' body-worn cameras has been too difficult for Richardson's mom, Laurie Littlejohn, to watch.
“I’m exhausted. I don't know what to do, where to turn, what's my next move," Littlejohn said through tears. “This is a cruel world.”
Littlejohn said she's never kept any guns within her home, and that her son would not have known how to handle a weapon. She added that she never purchased her son a pellet gun.
“This is not our life at all," Littlejohn said. “I never raised him like that.”
The family has hired attorney Ed Hopkins, who said there are several questions that he wants answered. He would like to locate additional surveillance video of the incident, learn why the public did not learn it was a pellet gun instead of a real weapon sooner, and why Richardson was shot after he had been tackled to the ground.
“We want to know why the officer chose to fire the shot after Jor’Dell had clearly surrendered to both officers," said Hopkins.
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Hopkins and his team want to see the finished city investigation, and conduct an investigation of their own, before deciding on possible litigation or a settlement in Richardson's case.
He also mentioned one of the officers involved had a recent settlement, regarding a racial discrimination case.
The City of Aurora confirmed there was a settlement in the 2018 case Hopkins referenced in February for $100,000 "to avoid a protracted legal process that did not serve the best interests of the city or its residents." The settlement is not an admission of liability.
The case relates to a 2018 police response prompted by a dispatch call. A woman who lived at an apartment complex said she was frightened to exit her vehicle and walk to her apartment door because the occupants of a silver Audi, which had multiple bullet holes in the side, might be watching her. Notably, it was the middle of the night at the time of the dispatch call. Officers on scene contacted the driver of the Audi, Mr. Tevon Thomas, who was hesitant to speak, was averting attention, and was breathing heavily, in response to the officers’ contact. The suspicious behavior prompted questions from officers about whether there was anything in the vehicle the parties wished to disclose. After hesitation and denials, officers requested the driver and passenger to exit the vehicle and discovered a magazine in the door. They also located a pistol in Mr. Thomas’s pocket. The pistol was reported stolen from a party in Lakewood.
Agent Matthew Longshore with the Aurora Police Department said the department will not be offering additional comments or statements at this time due to the multiple ongoing investigations.
A memorial and procession is planned for Richardson at 5 p.m. on Friday at the Aurora Municipal Center.