AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) — The Aurora Police Department has fired two of the three officers who posed for photos at the Elijah McClain memorial. The other officer resigned. One photo shows the officers reenacting the chokehold used on McClain, who later died.
(courtesy: Aurora Police)
“To even think about doing such a thing, it’s beyond comprehension, and it’s reprehensible. It shows a lack of morals values and integrity, and a judgment that I can no longer trust to allow them to wear this badge,” Interim Police Chief Vanessa Wilson said in a news conference Friday.
Jaron Jones, in the center of the photos, resigned. His record will show that he was going to be terminated and he will not be allowed to be a police officer anywhere in Colorado.
Erica Marrero and Kyle Dittrich, also seen in the photos, were fired.
Jason Rosenblatt, one of the three Aurora police officers involved in the encounter with McClain was also fired Friday. The interim chief confirmed Rosenblatt had no part in the taking or distribution of the photos, but they were sent to him, and he replied with an inappropriate response.
Interim Chief Vanessa Wilson said Rosenblatt replied, “Haha.”
“He is being fired for his lack and utter ability to do the right thing here,” the chief stated.
“We know that there are cops that have integrity. They understand duty and they understand honor these four don’t get it,” she added. “They don’t deserve to wear badges anymore.”
The photos were also sent to another officer involved in the confrontation with McClain. Chief Wilson said Nathan Woodyard was disgusted by the photos and deleted them.
“I can tell you that Mr. Woodyard was extremely disturbed, and is still very much, having a hard time dealing with this entire situation,” Wilson said.
Wilson said the only reason she found out about the photos was an “honorable” officer reported them to a sergeant.
Wilson said reporting an incident like this isn’t mandatory — but she hopes to change that.
“We’re going to be looking at any directive changes that we can have that, that if something like this happens in the future, that we can immediately address it. So I have to look at legalities of that, to make sure that I can put a directive in if someone receives a photo like this that we that they’re mandated to let me know and turn, turn it in.”
“I can say that we’ve made a lot of mistakes, and that we have addressed those mistakes, and I am continuing to address those faces with transparency and also holding officers accountable,” Wilson stated. “I believe that determination of these three officers shows you that, as well as other officers that I have recently terminated, and the culture has been reset, and they know that this will not be tolerated.”
Wilson said she spoke to McClain’s mother earlier in the day, and apologized to her again.
“It’s not enough. It’s not enough, and I stand here today, and I assure the men and women of the police department to say that we were ashamed. And we’re angry.”