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Aurora Police chief describes officers’ ‘violent confrontation’ with a suspect who died in custody

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Posted at 6:13 PM, Dec 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-19 08:07:25-05

AURORA, Colo. — The chief of police for Aurora described an incident between his officers and a man involved in a family disturbance as “one of the most violent confrontations that I have seen in my career.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Aurora Police Chief Nicholas Metz provided an update on a “large disturbance” at an apartment complex Monday night that left the suspect dead and sent two officers to the hospital.

As he described details from body camera footage that his department hasn't released yet, Chief Metz said his officers were not prepared for the level of violence that was about to be unleashed as they approached the apartment unit in the 10600 block of E. Jewell Avenue.

When three officers responded to a family disturbance call around 6:15 p.m. Monday, they heard screaming and cries for help, Metz said. He said the body cam footage showed a woman directing officers inside the unit where they see the suspect violently choking another man.

According to Metz, when the suspect failed to comply to demands to stop, officers tasered the 5-foot, 9-inch, 240-pound suspect several times to no avail.

“The tasers had absolutely no impact on this man,” Metz said.

After the suspect was tased, Metz said he rushed at the officers — one male and two females — and a “very violent fight” ensued between the suspect and the officers outside the apartment unit.

At one point during the confrontation, Metz said the suspect choked an officer and attempted to take an officer's taser and baton. Again, the suspect was tased, and officers used a baton in an attempt to subdue him, but Metz said the non-lethal attacks appeared to have no impact.

“This fight became so violent and involved, that officers put out what we call a ‘help call,’" said Aurora Police Officer Bill Hummel on Monday. "That prompted a city-wide response from officers in all three districts."

Hummel said the man, whose name and age have not been released, became unresponsive as officers attempted to take him into custody. They administered life-saving efforts until medical personnel arrived.

Paramedics rushed the suspect to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. The Arapahoe County Coroner’s Office will determine the cause of death.

Two officers were also transported to local area hospitals where they were treated for injuries that were not life-threatening.

The officers involved in this incident have been placed on administrative reassignment with pay, as is Aurora Police Department policy.

The case is being investigated by the Aurora Police Department's Major Crimes Unit and the Denver Police Department Homicide Unit.