Photo: Jor’Dell (center) with his mom and older brother
On June 1, 14-year-old Jor’Dell Richardson was shot in his stomach and killed while being restrained on the ground by officer Roch Gruszeczska in Aurora, Colorado.
Police officers were chasing a group of Black children after they were allegedly stealing vape cartridges from a local convenience store. The group of teens were profiled by the gang intervention team because they had medical masks and hoodies on in front of the convenience store — something that of course has become a common look since the pandemic. Jor’Dell yelled to the police officer “Stop! Please you got me” after being tackled and restrained, moments before he was murdered.
Interim Chief of Police Art Acevedo stated in a public press conference on the day of the shooting that Richardson had a pistol in his waistband. This statement from Acevedo, has now been proven to be a blatant lie. At a later press conference held on June 9, Acevedo admitted that the semi automatic pistol was a BB gun — a toy! And it had not been removed from Jor’Dell’s waistband until AFTER he was shot in the stomach by officer Roch Gruszeczka while laying on the ground.
Since the murder of Elijah McClain in 2019, the Aurora Police Department has been met with massive public backlash over how Black and Brown residents of the city have been severely mistreated. Since the last interim Police Chief Vanessa Wilson, who was fired after the Elijah McClain lawsuit, Aurora PD has been in the news for numerous instances of racism.
On June 9, a vigil in Aurora was held for Jor’Dell with family, friends, and community members to coincide with the public release of the video of the killing. Moments before this vigil, Jor’Dell’s family was made aware that it was indeed a toy and not a semi automatic pistol. It took eight grueling days for APD to confirm this information to the family.
In February, the city of Aurora settled a $100,000 lawsuit with Officer Gruszecka for violating Black Aurora resident Tevon Thomas’ Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful search and seizure. This is one of many lawsuits APD has been hit with.
Police brutality is a form of social and economic control in the United States. Only the power of the people taking the streets in large numbers has kept and will keep APD accountable for the blatant racism and police militarization that continues to happen in this city.