An Extralegal Execution in Aurora

Very early Monday morning in Aurora, Colorado, 73-year-old Richard “Gary” Black woke up to find a woman on his porch attempting to retrieve her 26-year-old son, who she said was on drugs and not likely in control of his actions. Black raced upstairs, where he found that a nude man, later identified as the 26-year-old Dajon Harper, had dragged his 11-year-old grandson from the living room into a bathroom, where he was strangling and attempting to drown the boy. Black, a Vietnam combat veteran, started to beat the man and reportedly tried to gouge out one of his eyes in an effort to free his grandson to no avail, went and retrieved a handgun, and shot Harper dead.

Black’s wife had been on the phone with 911 and police reported hearing gunshots as they approached the house. Black walked into his living room, where police shot him dead through a window from outside the house. Police reportedly didn’t identify themselves but claimed for “around thirteen seconds” they screamed at Black five times to drop his weapon. The whereabouts of Harper’s mother during the incident are presently unknown. Black reportedly suffered hearing damage from his time in Vietnam, as well as further degradation due to old age, and also likely had very little auditory function after firing a handgun inside of a bathroom. Aurora Chief of Police Nick Metz has blamed Mr. Black’s actions for his death, despite the as-of-yet unnamed police officer being involved in a fatal shooting in June and recently returned to duty.

The same police department that took in Aurora theater shooter James Holmes into custody alive murdered a man defending his family in his own home, from outside the house, who was an entirely different ethnicity and wearing specifically described clothing than the suspect detailed during the emergency phone call. That’s an indictment of incompetence and poor training that underscores the “fearful”, wanton bloodlust of police culture in America, where academies constantly drill a shoot-first-ask-question-later mentality with phrases like “better to be judged by twelve than carried out by six.” Anyone paying attention in the last thirty years knows that phrase is far accurately “better to get several weeks of ‘paid administrative leave’ and no charges.”

Aurora’s Police Department is known locally as a refuge for the flunky idiots and drooling brutes who couldn’t hack it in Denver’s equally reprehensible force. The training of a police officer in the US costs on average around $150,000 and takes 840 hours (which is the same amount of time it takes to be licensed to cut hair for a living), this is why the “recidivism rate” for the rare few police officers actually fired for misconduct is so high. Due to the police being able to investigate and “clear” officers of brutality and corruption accusations internally, very few are held accountable in the first place. Unsurprisingly, the pig that shot Gary Black, giving him his second kill of the year, was also a US military veteran. A disproportionate amount of police in this country don’t just patrol neighborhoods they don’t live in, exacerbating conflict through a detached perspective and lacking empathy for their residents, but were actively indoctrinated to kill as “counter-insurgency operatives” in foreign countries. Is it any wonder there’s an endemic of police violence in the United States?

A few years back, I briefly worked as an ice cream truck driver. We were instructed at the dispatching depot that the City of Aurora was off-limits due to some old laws on the books, but I had a feeling why we weren’t allowed to go there. As the cost of living in Denver has doubled in the last seven years, it isn’t any surprise that the cycle of violence and poverty in Aurora hasn’t abated. Dajon Harper was, by most measures of polite society, a hardened criminal. He’d been released from custody just a day earlier after serving one year of an eighteen-month sentence for robbery and had a lengthy rap sheet including charges for attempted murder and shooting at the mother of his two children. I can’t begin to imagine the exhausting sense of redundant panic the man’s mother must have felt as she tried to retrieve Harper from the Black household; perhaps clashing with the cautious optimism she may have felt just hours earlier when her son came home from a prison cell.

An elderly man arrested during the 2008 Democratic Nation Convention. Swept up in a mass arrest as he walked home from the library and handcuffed.

The NRA, an organization that most would assume would be incensed over the killing of a legal gun owner and senior citizen military veteran protecting his home in a Castle Law state, has yet to issue any statement. Perhaps they’re busy helping coordinate more “Blue Lives Matter” demonstrations or refusing to back police murder victim and legal gun owner Phillando Castille. What this should teach the civilian bootlicker crowd is that your whiteness or seniority won’t protect you from police violence. Your veteran status won’t protect you from police violence. The system of punishment and imprisonment, and the continued criminalization and institutionalization of young black, brown, and poor people in this country leads to no rehabilitation, no newly productive members of society.

Briefly, this morning, I got into an argument online with a purported British person that claimed in the U.K., this would’ve ended with the police showing up and taking away a nude man on drugs, not two corpses, while making the point that this is a case for homeowners in the United States not to have firearms. That’s patently bullshit, as I strongly doubt a 73-year-old man could fight off a man in his physical prime from choking a child to death before the police arrived without a weapon. Another poster made the point that it would’ve been safer to not call the police and literally bury the body yourself, deal with a manslaughter and a tampering with a corpse charge than let some roid-pig show up and murder you in a rookie panic.

Black’s family has issued a statement as the investigation continues, stating that they’re reviewing bodycam audio and video and discouraging the public from threatening officers in the Aurora Police Department. The story has hit internationally, and as the family are longtime supporters of law enforcement, stating that Mrs. Black used to make quilts for the APD, they’re dismayed the story is being used to further a divide between cops and the public.

Tell it to your dead husband, your dead father, your dead grandfather, just like tens of thousands of others across this country have had to. The divide starts at the barrel of their guns, in the smoking, hastily spilled shell casings that sat in the gutter outside your home, where some trembling, scared, State-sanctioned thug executed a man your family loved, an “American Hero” by most standards, without thinking twice about what he was doing. It’s been them versus us for decades.

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