The Aurora police shootings are now under investigation by other agencies after Elijah McClain’s report found a flawed trial
The Aurora Police Department will no longer investigate the shootings of its own officers and will instead allow other law enforcement agencies to lead the investigation.
Aurora police will join the 17th and 18th judicial districts multi-agency teams, which include Aurora, the agencies said on Friday. This means that the next Aurora police officer’s shooting will be investigated by police from other agencies in those jurisdictions.
“This partnership brings added transparency to our critical incident investigations and builds trust in the community we serve,” Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson said in a statement.
The new partnership replaces an arrangement between Aurora Police and Denver that allowed authorities to investigate their own shootings. For example, if a Denver cop shoots and kills someone, the investigation into that shootout is led by a Denver murder detective. Aurora Police Department provides additional support and participates in interviews.
This agreement caused concern among prosecutors and police officers.
And it came under scrutiny after outside consultants discovered that Aurora detectives’ investigation into Elijah McClain’s death by Aurora officials was deeply flawed. The consultants hired by the city found that the detectives “expanded the records to relieve the officers” and asked key questions.
The Denver Police Department is also considering a new method of investigating police shootings, Chief Paul Pazen said Friday. He would not give any details about the new arrangement as it is not final. He said Aurora police will continue to investigate police shootings in Denver until the new ruling is finalized.
“We tried to improve the transparency and thoroughness of the investigations,” he said.
The Denver Police Department is different from other law enforcement agencies in the state because it is the only police department in its judicial district. Law enforcement agencies typically partner with the other agencies in their district to form multi-jurisdictional teams to investigate police shootings.
A law passed in 2015 requires the creation of such teams, known as Critical Incident Response Teams. Some authorities have used the teams to investigate other police violence in addition to shootings.
The arrangement between the Aurora and Denver Police Agencies was in line with the requirements of the Colorado Act, but is unusual in a state where most jurisdictions do not allow an agency to investigate the conduct of its own officer.
Neither the 17th District Critical Incident Response Team nor the 18th District Courts allow an agency to conduct an investigation into a shooting by its own officers.
The 17th judicial district team prohibits officials from the investigated agency from attending at all, and the 18th judicial district team only allows officers from the investigated agency to attend if there are not enough officers to do all of the tasks.
“With today’s announcement, I’m much more confident that such an incident – whether in Aurora or any other community in my jurisdiction – will be properly investigated,” said Brian Mason, district attorney for the 17th judicial district, in a statement.