Aurora Police settles with family of Black girls handcuffed at gunpoint and Suncor pays more fines

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    02_05_24_headlines Alexis Kenyon

Family of Handcuffed Girls Settles With Aurora PD

The family of two Black girls who were handcuffed by Aurora police and forced to lie face down in a parking lot as their mother was arrested has settled their lawsuit against the city.Their $1.9 million settlement comes three and a half years after the incident. The lawsuit brought by Britteny Gilliam and her family said the police actions that day showed “profound and systematic” racism. The Associated Press reports that Gilliam, her daughter, her sister, and two nieces were having a girls’ day out in August 2020 when police stopped them on suspicion of driving a stolen car. Britteny Gilliam was handcuffed and arrested, and her crying daughter and niece were handcuffed together and made to lie face down.

Video of the incident went viral and sparked community outrage. An investigation by prosecutors concluded that the incident was “unacceptable and preventable,” while at the same time said that police were following their training for conducting a high-risk stop. However, the car was not stolen, and none of those in it had violated any laws. One of the officers involved was suspended for 160 hours, but he and the other officer still work for Aurora police.

Denver Migrant Shelter Contract

The Denver City Council has approved a contract guaranteeing to spend up to $25 million on shelter for migrants arriving in the city. The contract approved by the council yesterday says they’ll spend at least $23.4 million from the start of last year through this coming June, according to the Denver Gazette. The city has struggled to house and feed tens of thousands of migrants who have arrived in Denver since early 2023. As of yesterday, the city is housing close to 4,000 migrants.

Mayor Mike Johnston said in a City Council meeting that Denver has reached its breaking point. In recent weeks he has requested financial help from the federal government, saying that the city could spend up to $180 million on the crisis this year. The U.S. Senate has compromised on a plan to address the border crisis, but it faces strong opposition from Republicans in both houses of Congress. Meanwhile, 9News reports that Denver began forcing hundreds of migrant families out of shelters yesterday, with thousands more likely to be forced out by late March

.Denver Gazette report on shelter contract

Suncor Fined

Suncor, the 100-year-old oil refinery in Commerce City, has been hit with a $10.5 million fine for violating air pollution standards at its Commerce City refinery. The penalty, issued by the state of Colorado yesterday, is for a three-year period of violations and is being called the largest ever against a single facility. The action also will require the refinery to double its air monitoring efforts along the plant’s fence line.

The agreement, announced Monday, was for violations that took place between 2019 and 2021. The company’s original plan for monitoring was for its equipment to pivot, measuring samples for five minutes in one direction and then turning and measuring for five minutes in the opposite direction. State health officials told Suncor to double the equipment so more air samples could be taken in all directions. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment investigates Suncor violations on a two-year cycle and is still probing air pollution releases from the past two and a half years.

According to the Colorado Sun, as a result of a 2020 settlement, Suncor has made $5 million in required plant improvements to their facility. The new $10.5 million settlement requires $8 million more in plant changes. And a $2.5 million cash fine, which will be split between environmental justice grants and the general fund. Environmental groups say the fines are a slap on the wrist for the Canada-based company. Suncor had reported a $2 billion third quarter last year.

Colorado Sun coverage of Suncor’s air pollution settlement

Cops Squash Al Qaeda Rumor

Denver police say that a story that they have arrested more than fifty members of Al-Qaeda at the Denver International Airport recently is false and without foundation.

The story began with a video posted to X and has been seen more than 1.4 million times since Sunday, according to Fox 31. The video claims that more than fifty Al-Qaeda members have been arrested by Denver police at DIA in the last two months. It was posted by someone on an account that describes itself as a conspiracy theorist.

The video did not offer any evidence to support the claims. In a post of its own, Denver Police said flatly that the claim that they have made all those arrests is false. It also said that there were two arrests made at the DIA in 2023. Both are federal cases that have been publicized by the U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Colorado.

Fox 31 report on DPD’s response

New DIA Security Lanes

A new state-of-the-art checkpoint officially opens at the Denver International Airport today. The new West Security Checkpoint, which is being called a major milestone in the DIA’s Great Hall renovation project, has had a soft opening over the last two weeks, and airport officials had a ribbon-cutting ceremony yesterday.

9News says the new checkpoint features 17 lanes and will serve travelers with TSA Pre-check, Clear, and DEN Reserve. It has automatic bins, meaning that TSA workers and travelers alike won’t have to move them. The entire Great Hall airport renovation is still years from completion: under the current schedule, it will be finished by the end of 2027.

9News report on DIA’s Great Hall project

A-Basin Sold

A popular Colorado ski area is about to change ownership. The sale of Arapahoe Basin, announced yesterday, marks the end of an era. A-Basin was founded by a World War II veteran in 1946. It has been owned by Dream Unlimited since 1997, according to the Denver Post, and has remained one of the few independent ski areas in the industry. The buyer is Alterra Mountain Co., a Denver-based firm. They are expected to close the deal with Dream Unlimited later this year. The sale price has not been disclosed.

Alterra owns 17 other resorts, including Winter Park and Steamboat.

Wozniak CU Commencement

Steve Wozniak will deliver the commencement address to this year’s graduating class at CU-Boulder. Wozniak, who co-founded Apple Computer with Steve Jobs in 1976, accepted an invitation from CU’s Senior Class Council and will speak at ceremonies at Folsom Field on May 9.

Before he and Jobs launched Apple, Wozniak attended CU in the late 1960s. He has an honorary doctorate in engineering from CU, awarded in 1989. His designs of the first Apple computers were central to launching personal computers as we know them today. Senior Class Council Jacob Baca said Wozniak embodies the resilience and passion of CU’s Class of 2024.

Record Moisture

All of that weekend’s rain and snow has made last Saturday one of the wettest February 3rds in Colorado history. Fox 31 says the rain and snow mix is called a “liquid-snow equivalent.” It all set a record for the most precipitation to fall along the Denver-area Front Range on that date, with totals ranging from five to ten inches. The rain and the dense, heavy snow translate to .72 inches of liquid, surpassing the previous record amount of .57, twelve years ago.

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Alexis Kenyon

Alexis Kenyon is an experienced radio reporter with more than 15 years of experience creating compelling, sound-rich radio stories for news outlets across the country. Kenyon has master's degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, Graduate School of Journalism in radio broadcast and photojournalism. She has worked in KGNU's news department since 2021 as a reporter, editor, and daily news producer. In all her work, she strives to produce thought-provoking, trustworthy journalism that makes other people's stories feel personal. In addition to audio production, Kenyon runs KGNU's news internship program and oversees the department's digital engagement.

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