Skip to content

Aurora officers in Jor’Dell Richardson shooting death cleared by internal probe

As the trial of two Aurora police officers charged in the death of Elijah McClain went to a jury in Brighton Tuesday, three other Aurora cops were cleared by an internal affairs investigation in the June police shooting death of another Black male. 

Jor’Dell Richardson’s case received national attention because the 14-year-old was carrying a pellet gun, which was an exact replica of a 9mm pistol, when he was killed. The phony handgun fooled the two police officers who tackled him in an alley, one of whom shot him. 

All three officers who were involved in the Richardson incident were exonerated by The Aurora Police Department Internal Investigations Bureau Tuesday and are back on the street doing full duty.  Two of the three were punished for sidebar infractions — one for being late in activating his body camera, and the other for using profane language while he was apprehending Richardson after an intense foot chase. Otherwise, the officers were determined to have not violated any Aurora Police Department policies.

Surveillance video showed that Richardson and the group of boys had robbed a convenience store at gunpoint using the fake handgun.   

On the afternoon of June 1, Sgt. Stephenson Carey was on routine patrol near 8th and Dayton streets when he noticed a group of “suspicious” teens wearing COVID masks and gloves with hoodies pulled over their heads walking in a strip mall. He called the Gang Unit for help and pulled his vehicle around the mall, where he noticed a parked mini-van which he determined to be stolen. Carey did not participate in tackling Richardson, but he was reprimanded for being late activating his body-worn camera.  

Roch Gruszeczka was exonerated for shooting Richardson in the abdomen, killing him. According to the press release, he first yelled ‘gun,’ ordered the boy to drop it, and then warned him that he would shoot him if he didn’t let it go, “which he did not.” Gruszeczka was cleared for use of deadly force, was determined to have identified himself and gave a warning before he shot, and for conformance to law, the release said.  

The third officer, James Snapp, who first tackled Richardson but did not do the shooting, was also exonerated by The Aurora Police Department Internal Investigations Bureau for use of physical force and conformance to law, but reprimanded for using foul language when he commanded for the suspect to “Get on the ground, you f____ idiot!” 

Last month, Snapp and Gruszeczka’s involvement was investigated by the 18th Judicial District Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) and presented to the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. The office determined that Snapp’s use of force and Gruszeczka’s use of deadly force was legally justified under Colorado law, so neither of them faced criminal charges.

Aurora Police Chief Art Acevedo recognized that Richardson’s death was upsetting to the teen’s family and to the community, but said in a statement that: “While some will vehemently disagree with our findings, it is important for the community to know that the department left no stone unturned to establish the facts in this case.” 

Siddartha Rathod, the Richardson family’s civil attorney, said that he was not surprised by the findings because of the history his law firm, Rathod Mohamedbhai LLC, has with the Aurora Police Department’s internal investigations.

“The Aurora Police Department exonerated its officers in the murders of Naeschylus Carter-Vinzant, Garry Black, and Elijah McClain. Three cases our firm handled,” Rathod said in a text message.

Aurora paid $20 million dollars to settle those three cases, Rathod noted, and though the officers in Richardson’s death have been exonerated by the district attorney and by department’s internal investigation, the civil case is ongoing. 

To view the article in it’s entirety, visit