No charges will be filed against Aurora, Co. police officer, Drew Limbaugh, in the shooting death of homeowner Richard “Gary” Black in July. That is what the Adams County District Attorney’s office said Monday. The shooting was a tragic accident and the officer mistook the homeowner for the intruder.
“Based on the evidence presented and the applicable Colorado law, there is no reasonable likelihood of success of proving any crimes beyond a reasonable doubt at trial,” District Attorney Dave Young wrote in his decision letter. “Therefore, no criminal charges will be filed against the law enforcement officer involved in this incident.”
The problem is Limbaugh had just returned from a two-week administrative leave for another fatal shooting in June. 18 days after the shooting, he was back on patrol. The department did not have to wait for a clearance letter from the 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office to allow the officer to return to regular duty. Limbaugh underwent a psychological assessment, counseling and “firearms qualification” before returning to duty according to Young.
The 73-year-old Vietnam veteran was defending his son and grandson from an intruder. According to witness accounts, the incident began when the intruder, Dajon Harper, naked, knocked repeatedly on the Blacks’ door while everyone inside the house — Black, his wife Jeanette and his 11-year-old grandson — was asleep.
Harper managed to kick the door off its hinges and drag the grandson into the bathroom. Black’s wife called 911 and reported the intruder was in the bathroom hurting her grandson, and that there was blood everywhere.
Harper reportedly made his way to the Black residence after leaving a party across the street. Along the way, he “began damaging cars right near the house, was acting irrationally … and at one point, he injured himself,” Metz said days after the incident.
Upwards of 10 party-goers made it to the Black home before police arrived on the scene. The attendees tried to get Harper out of the residence but he managed to close them out of the home. Black shot and killed Harper just as officers arrived at his front porch.
News reports and officers echoed the same chorus, that Black did not comply with the officers’ orders to put down his weapon. Officers did not announce themselves as police. They went guns drawn and flashlights blinding and disorienting. Black had no idea police was at his door much less telling him to drop his weapon. He lifted his flashlight to break up the glare and immediately Limbaugh opened fire.
“(Officers) were confronted by a very, very violent and complex situation, and within two minutes, if that, had to make some very, very critical decisions,” Metz said in August.
Lawyers representing the Black family said in a statement to The Denver Post that the body camera footage shows Black wasn’t a threat to officers and officers never identified themselves as law enforcement before shooting Black.
“The District Attorney’s report selectively emphasizes certain facts in order to justify its conclusion,” the statement from the Rathod Mohamedbhai law firm said.
Watch the body cam footage and you be the judge.