Friday, July 29, 2011

Chief orders review of shooting

Police Chief Dan Oates ordered an internal investigation Friday into a botched undercover operation last week that resulted in an officer shooting and killing an extortion suspect.

“This event has triggered a number of questions both within the department and the community,” Oates said in a statement. “We need to take a thorough look at the decisions we made that evening and the tactics we employed. We need to determine whether we can learn from this event.”

Oates stressed that the investigation will not look at whether the officer, whose name has not been released, acted appropriately when he shot 59-year-old Juan Contreras last Saturday. Contreras had a knife when he was shot and the decision about the officer’s use of force is a matter for the district attorney, Oates said. 

Instead, a Tactical Review Board will look at the department’s decision to use an undercover team to arrest Contreras, who police say was trying to extort $50 from an elderly woman after he found her car keys. 

“The TRB is about policy, training, process and decision making. It is about what led up to the moment of that confrontation,” Oates said. “Could we have done this better? We have an obligation to be the best we can be as a police department, and if we can learn from what occurred here and thereby avoid a deadly confrontation in the future, that will be a positive outcome.”

Police said Monday that officers, with the approval of a lieutenant and a sergeant, quickly planned an undercover operation to arrest Contreras after he called an elderly woman and told her he had her car keys and would give them back for $50. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cops cleared in third March shooting

Aaron Williams

AURORA | Six Aurora police officers who shot a suspect after a standoff last spring were justified in using deadly force, prosecutors said Monday. 

In a letter to Aurora police Chief Dan Oates, Adams County district attorney Don Quick said the officers who shot and killed 20-year-old Aaron Williams on March 18 used appropriate force. 

Williams, who had a warrant out for his arrest, shot at one officer March 17 before fleeing and taking a family hostage inside a home in the 1500 block of Emporia Street, according to the letter. 

During an eight-hour standoff with police, Williams made several comments about “shooting it out” with officers rather than being arrested. The next morning, he jumped from a window and pointed a pistol at officers, who shot him nine times. 

Quick said officers Brad Graham, Wilbur Hinton, Dave Krieger, Matthew Milligan, Jeremy Sexton and Jack Valentine acted appropriately when they shot Williams. A seventh officer, Chris Neiman, was also justified when he fired non-lethal shots, Quick said. 

“Officers could reasonably believe that it was necessary to shoot at Williams to defend themselves, other police officers or residents of the apartment complex,” Quick wrote. 

Williams’ shooting was part of a bizarre a seven-day stretch starting March 15 in which two police officers were wounded and three suspects were shot to death by police in three separate incidents. The officers in the other two incidents were also justified in using deadly force, prosecutors said. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Not guilty plea in 'Birdman' slaying

A man accused of killing a popular northwest Aurora resident last spring in a yard near East Colfax Avenue and Havana Street pleaded not guilty Monday to first-degree murder. 

Jeffrey Foos, 49, entered the plea during arraignment in Adams County District Court, according to court records. 

Foos is scheduled to go on trial in December. 

Police arrested Foos on a first -degree murder charge March 27, 11 days after Timothy Blackburn, 53, was found dead in front of a home in the 10300 block of East 16th Avenue, a block northwest of Colfax and Havana.

Police later said Foos and Blackburn were “acquaintances,” but declined to discuss further details about the case.

Foos has been held without bond at the Adams County Jail since his arrest. 

According to an arrest affidavit, Foos stabbed Blackburn with a large hunting knife during a dispute over Foos’ van. The van had been stolen and Foos believed Blackburn knew where it was, the affidavit said.

A judge ruled last month there is ample evidence for Foos to stand trial. 

In the days after Blackburn’s slaying, police released his mug shot in hopes that someone would recognize the well-known northwest Aurora resident who went by the nicknames “Bird” and “Birdman.”

According to state records, Foos has been arrested dozens of times since the early 1980s on charges including assault, failure to appear in court and harassment.

Police have not released Foos’ mug shot.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Aurora tae kwon do instructor facing sex charges

Raul Gutierrez
 AURORA | An Aurora tae kwon do instructor is facing felony charges after police say he sexually assaulted three teenage girls enrolled in his martial arts school. 

Raul Alberto Gutierrez-Hernandez, 31, was arrested Wednesday on charges of sexual assault on a child and sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of, police said. After his arrest, Gutierrez was released from jail on $50,000 bond. 

In a statement Friday, police said they believe there may be additional victims. 

Gutierrez is an instructor at the Tae kwon do Tegura studio on East Sixth Avenue near Salida Street. The studio used to be at 638 Peoria St.

According to his biography posted on the dojo’s website, Gutierrez is a four-time Mexican National Champion, four time member of the Junior Mexican National Team and was named the Amateur Athletic Union’s Colorado Coach of the Year in 2009. 

Police said Gutierrez has been an instructor in Aurora since 2004 and investigators believe the first assault happened in 2008. 

The Aurora police crimes against children unit is asking parents or guardians who have a child that has a current or previous connection to Gutierrez or his martial arts school to talk to their child to determine if any inappropriate contact occurred between their child and Gutierrez. Police also want parents to ask if their child witnessed any suspicious activity involving Gutierrez.

According to Colorado Bureau of Investigation records, Gutierrez has never been arrested in Colorado before Wednesday. 

Police are asking anyone with information about this case is asked to call Detective Christine Hurley at 303-739-6113.  Callers who wish to remain anonymous can contact Denver Crime Stoppers at 720-913-STOP (7867) or text a tip to 274637 (CRIMES) then title DMCS  before the message.

It wasn’t immediately clear from court records if Gutierrez had a lawyer. 

Gutierrez didn't immediately return a message left for him Friday at the number listed on the dojo's website. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Police: Woman fights off attacker

A composite sketch of the suspect.

AURORA | Police say a woman with martial arts training fought off a man who broke into her Aurora home and tried to sexually assault her. 

The attack happened around 4 a.m. July 1 inside the woman’s home in northwest Aurora, police said. 

The woman was asleep when the man entered her home by lifting a sliding-glass door from it’s track and attacked her, Aurora police spokesman Detective Bob Friel said. 

Police said the man tried to sexually assault the woman but she was able to fight him off.

“Her effort to fight back changed this situation from a sexual assault to an attempted sexual assault,” Friel said. “She did the right thing in this case, she fought back.”

Investigators on Thursday released a composite sketch of the man and asked the public for help tracking him down. 

The suspect is described as a black male in his 30’s, between 5 feet 7 inches and 5 feet 9 inches tall with a thin build and braided hair. One of the man’s braids appeared to the victim to stick out in an unusual way, police said.

The man also may have been injured when the woman fought back, Friel said. 

Aurora police are offering a reward of up to $5,000 and metro Denver Crime Stoppers is offering up to $2,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the suspect, police said. 

Police are asking anyone with information to call Sex Crimes Detective Lana Maddox at 303-739-6136 or dispatch 303-627-3100.  Callers who wish to remain anonymous can contact Denver Crime Stoppers at 720-913-STOP (7867) or text a tip to 274637 (CRIMES) then title DMCS  before the message.

Last month a burglar broke into a northwest Aurora home early one morning and tried to attack a 4-year-old girl, but police said Thursday they do not believe the incidents, while similar, are connected. Police are working to determine whether the incident is connected to any others in the city and have reached out to Denver police as well because the woman’s home is close to the Denver-Aurora border, Friel said.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sheriff: No threat from Nine Mile scare

A sheriffs deputy and his K-9 investigate a bomb scare  July 13 at
Nine Mile Station. The suspicious packages proved to be harmless.
(Heather L. Smith/Aurora Sentinel)
AURORA | Two unattended suitcases found Wednesday afternoon at the Nine Mile bus and light rail station were not bombs, the Arapahoe County sheriff said.

Sheriff Grayson Robinson said the two bags were found around 1 p.m. at either end of the tunnel connecting the parking garage and the light rail platform. 

Because the unattended bags were placed in separate areas, bomb squad investigators were particularly concerned, Robinson said.  “Obviously, that’s just an additional red flag,” he said. 

At 3:50 p.m., Robinson issued a statement that said the items were not hazardous or threatening. 

Robinson said it’s too early for investigators to say whether the incident was a hoax or simply an accident. But, because the bags were at separate ends of the tunnel, Robinson said it likely wasn’t an accident. 

Even if it was a deliberate hoax, Robinson said whoever left the bags likely won’t face charges. 

“It’s not against the law to abandon property that is not hazardous,” he said. 

Fomer Children's doc pleads guilty

AURORA | A former high-ranking doctor at The Children’s Hospital in Aurora pleaded guilty Wednesday to prescription drug fraud after investigators say he illegally acquiring thousands of pills.

According to a statement from the United States attorney’s office in Denver, Dr. Louis Hampers pleaded guilty to 14 counts of obtaining a controlled substance, Hydrocodone by misrepresentation, fraud, deception or subterfuge.  

At sentencing in October, Hampers faces up to four years in prison on each count. 

As part of the plea agreement, Hampers agreed to relinquish his medical license and not seek one in the future. 

Hampers was arrested last fall in Virginia on more than 650 charges after a federal grand jury indicted him Aug. 26.

According to a statement from federal prosecutors, Hampers conspired with others to acquire generic Vicodin and generic Ambien. Hampers is also accused of 654 counts of fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance, including generic Vicodin, generic Ambien, generic Valium, and in one instance, generic Ritalin.

In total, federal prosecutors say Hampers illegally obtained over 20,000 tablets of Hydrocodone at multiple different pharmacies using five different aliases and eight different patient names.

A hospital spokeswoman said last fall that Hampers was head of pediatric emergency services at the hospital and left the Children’s in March 2010.

Hampers, who appeared in person at Wednesday’s hearing, is on 24-hour home detention.  

UPDATE: Bomb scare at Nine Mile

A sheriff's deputy stands near the tunnel
where two suspicious packages were found.
Photo by Heather Smith
AURORA | The Arapahoe County sheriff’s bomb squad is investigating two suspicious packages found Wednesday afternoon at the Nine Mile bus and light rail station.

Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said the two packages were found at either end of the tunnel connecting the parking garage and the light rail platform. 

Because the unattended packages were placed in separate areas, investigators are particularly concerned, Robinson said.  

“Obviously, that’s just an additional red flag,” he said. 

The investigation started when deputies received a call around 1 p.m. about suspicious packages found unattended at the station near Interstate 225 and Parker Road, according to a statement from Robinson.

According to police radio traffic, the bomb squad is using a robot to search the packages. Around 3 p.m., deputies said there wasn’t anything suspicious in the first package. 

Robinson said a bomb-sniffing dog was also en route to the station. 

Scott Reed, a spokesman for RTD, said the two packages were suitcases.

Light rail service at Nine Mile has been stopped, Reed said, and light rail users are encouraged to go to the Dayton Street stop instead. RTD is running a shuttle bus from the Dayton stop to Nine Mile, he said. 

The incident not only delayed bus and light rail traffic, but snarled traffic this afternoon on nearby Interstate 225. 

Robinson said the station as well as nearby Cherry Creek Dam Road have both been secured. 

Click below for a press release on the incident from the Arapahoe County Sheriff's office. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Figure in Monge case facing litany of charges in Fort Collins attack

Kenia Monge

AURORA | A man who described himself as a suspect in the disappearance of an Aurora teen has been arrested in Fort Collins on sex assault, attempted murder and arson charges after police say he attacked a woman there last week. 

Travis Eugene Forbes was arrested Sunday in connection with the July 5 assault of Lydia Tillman at her apartment on the north side of Fort Collins, according to a Channel 7 report

Tillman was attacked inside her home July 5 and the attacker tried to set fire to the home before fleeing, according to Fort Collins police. 

Tillman jumped from her second-story balcony to escape the blaze and has been hospitalized since, according to police. 

According to the Channel 7 report, Forbes was booked into the Larimer County Jail on Monday on charges of Police developed probable cause and Forbes was arrested late Monday night at the Larimer County jail on charges of: attempted first-degree murder, first-degree assault, arson, aggravated motor vehicle theft and sexual assault. 

Forbes told several media outlets in April that he gave Kenia Monge a ride the night she disappeared from a Downtown Denver nightclub and had been question by Denver police.

He said he was a suspect in Monge’s disappearance, but he has not been charged in connection with that case.

Monge has not been seen since the night Forbes says he gave her a ride. 

Cop cleared in Feb. shooting

AURORA | An undercover officer was justified when he who shot and killed an armed man suspected of selling methamphetamine to middle school students, prosecutors said Tuesday.

In a letter to Aurora police Chief Dan Oates, Arapahoe County Chief Deputy District Attorney Robert Chappell said Officer John Christy used appropriate force when he shot Richard Arreola on Feb. 10 near East Colfax Avenue and Macon Street. 

“Under the facts and circumstances surrounding this incident, it was reasonable for Officer Christy to conclude that a lesser degree of force was inadequate and that he was in imminent danger of being killed or of receiving great bodily injury by Richard Arreola,” Chappell wrote in the letter, dated April 5. 

Prosecutors released the letter Tuesday, a day after releasing two other letters that cleared Aurora officers who shot suspects in separate incidents last spring. 

In the Arreola case, police started investigating him when two students at an Aurora middle school had to be hospitalized after using meth, police said. 

Detectives focused their investigation on Arreola, who police said had been selling drugs from his wireless store in the 1400 block of Peoria Street, Neviah Wireless. 

While detectives were watching Arreola at a home near his store Feb. 10, Arreola, carrying a pistol and a rifle, approached one of the undercover officers. 

The officer, who was sitting in an undercover police vehicle, shot Arreola.  

Police searched Arreola’s store, which is a block east of where he was killed, and found two guns, a pound of marijuana and cash, police said. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Felony charge for July 4 shooting suspect

William Shead

AURORA | A 29-year-old man is facing a felony assault charge after police say he shot a man during a fight on Fourth of July. 

William Joseph Shead IV, of Aurora, was arrested a few minutes after the shooting in the 400 block of South Memphis Way, according to police. 

Officers initially responded to the scene on a report of a fight in progress, a police spokesman said. While the officers were en route to the scene, dispatchers told them shots had been fired. 

The 29-year-old man who was wounded is expected to survive. 

Shead is being held in lieu of $100,000 bail at the Arapahoe County Jail, according to jail records. he is due in court Monday. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Aurora man gets 320 years

AURORA | An Aurora man was sentenced to 320 years in prison Wednesday for a 2008 home invasion robbery in Littleton. 

David Henry Torrez, 29, was convicted in February of 15 counts of aggravated robbery, first-degree burglary and first-degree assault.

According to a statement from the Arapahoe County District attorney’s office, Torrez received the harsh sentence because with four previous felonies, he was deemed a habitual offender. 

The statement said Torrez and an unidentified accomplice brandished a pistol, utility knife and a large chain during the December 2008 robbery.

After the robbery, the homeowner followed Torrez, who fled the scene in his uncle’s car. Torrez tried to shoot the homeowner but his gun misfired, the statement said. 

Click below for the statement from the DA's office. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hernandez report details police errors

Francis Hernandez (AP file photo)

Aurora police traffic investigators made several mistakes in the Francis Hernandez case, and the department should overhaul its handling of fatal traffic crashes, according to an internal department investigation. 

An illegal immigrant from Guatemala, Hernandez was convicted last year of causing a 2008 crash that killed three people, including a toddler inside an ice cream shop. 

His week-long trial last year laid bare disputes between the traffic bureau detectives handling the high-profile case. There were also allegations Aurora police mishandled evidence. 

Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates assigned a “tactical review board” of six members of the department to review the investigation. The board — which included two commanders, two lieutenants, a sergeant and an officer — issued its 19-page report last week.

In it, the board said the department made a handful of mistakes, including assigning Detective Johnny Lee, the least-experienced detective in the traffic section, as the lead investigator and failing to provide him enough support.

“Lee, clearly the most inexperienced investigator, made several errors while working this extremely complex case,” the report said. 

CBI releases 2010 crime report

AURORA | Crime in Colorado rose by 0.8 percent last year, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s annual statewide crime report released Tuesday. 

The statewide data almost mirrors Aurora’s 2010 crime statistics, which showed major crime up by a single incident from 2009 to 2010. 

The CBI statistics showed that violent crime was up 3.4 percent last year, largely due to increases in rape, which jumped 3.4 percent, and robbery, which jumped 5.4 percent. 

Property crime fell 1.5 percent last year, the CBI report said. 

The report included some information about Aurora’s crime that was not previously released, most notable statistics related specifically to juveniles. 

According to the data, one juvenile was arrested on a homicide charge in Aurora last year while 18 adults were arrested on murder charges. 

Other than curfew and runaway charges, the only crime that juveniles were arrested for more often than adults in Aurora last year was arson. While just one adult was arrested on arson charges, 21 juveniles were, the report said. That total is similar to the statewide figures, which show 129 juveniles arrested for arson compared to 107 adults.