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17th Judicial District Attorney announces he’s dropping remaining charges against Aurora protest leaders

Charges stem from protest that happened outside Aurora police station on July 3, 2020
Posted at 2:19 PM, May 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-06 18:54:51-04

BRIGHTON, Colo. – All remaining charges against five people who led protests in Aurora last summer outside the police department’s District 1 station calling for justice in the death of Elijah McClain have been dismissed by the 17th Judicial District Attorney, his office announced Thursday.

Lillian House, Joel Northam, Whitney Lucero, Terrance Roberts, and Trey Quinn were facing several charges stemming from the events of July 3, 2020, including felony attempt to influence a public servant, inciting and engaging in a riot, as well as obstructing government operations. Those charges were filed by the previous 17th Judicial District Attorney.

House, Northam and Lucero were also facing attempted first-degree kidnaping charges, but those were dismissed by an Adams County judge back in March.

“After a thorough review of these cases, I have decided to dismiss the charges against these five individuals,” 17th Judicial District Attorney Brian Mason said in a statement. “I have an ethical obligation to only proceed on charges my office can prove and to dismiss charges that we cannot prove. My job is to do the right thing. After considerable thought and reflection, I believe dismissing these charges is the right thing to do.”

On July 2, 2020, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Aurora Police Department District 1 station to occupy the area until officers Nathan Woodyard and Randy Roedema were fired by the then-Interim Chief of Police, Vanessa Wilson.

By about 1 a.m. the next day, on July 3, several protesters started creating makeshift barricades with anything available to them – including cars, sticks, and other things – to try and create a perimeter around the District 1 building to prevent officers from leaving.

At one point, the doors of the police station were also tied shut.

“Significant lines were crossed during the protest at Aurora’s District One Police Station. It is not peaceful protest to tie the doors of a police station and prevent police officers from responding to calls for service. Doing so is against the law, puts our community at risk, and undermines the principles of the First Amendment. I am gratified that the five individuals, whose cases I dismiss today, say they agree with these sentiments,” Mason said.

The five people who were previously charged in the protest all released statements disavowing themselves from acts that evening they said, “crossed lines” and “went too far.”

In a statement, the Party for Socialism and Liberation - Denver said they agreed with Mason's conclusion on dismissing the charges, saying the charges lacked "any real basis."

"The prosecution has centered on a concerted effort to discredit these organizers and the peaceful and justified movement for justice for Elijah McClain by focusing on peripheral acts from individuals completely unrelated to the organizers or the vast majority of participants," a spokesperson wrote on Facebook. "But the reality is that this case was not about responding to supposed crimes; it was about stemming a protest movement of thousands of community members who had come together to demand justice for a member of their community who was unjustly tortured and murdered by the police without consequence."

Though charges were dismissed in the 17th Judicial District, House, Northam and Roberts still face charges in the 18th Judicial District, including obstructing a highway/passageway, among others.