Killing of Jor’Dell Richardson Sparks Outrage and Demands for Justice

The Richardson family addresses a crowd outside the Aurora Municipal Building following the killing of their son, Jor’Dell. Photo courtesy of Kira Zizzo
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    Killing of Jor’Dell Richardson Sparks Outrage and Demands for Justice Kira Z

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Aurora Police are once again facing community calls for accountability after killing a 14 year-old Black child earlier this month. Around 200 people rallied outside of the Aurora Municipal Building Friday to demand justice for the family of Jor’Dell Richardson.

“You can’t kill me, you can’t kill me,” a seven-year-old Black child chanted in front of the crowd gathered Friday afternoon outside of the Aurora Municipal Building.

The rally took place just after Aurora police released body cam footage of the chase and fatal shooting of 14-year-old Jor’Dell Richardson.

Aurora police initially claimed Richardson was armed and struggled with officers who chased him down after he allegedly stole vape cartridges from a local convenience store. 

Police Chief Art Acevedo narrated the sequence of events that occurred shortly after two officers chased Richardson into an alley and tackled him to the ground. 

“You see, at 16:22:40, Officer Snapp tackles Jor’Dell. At 16:22:42, Jor’Dell says ‘Stop, please. You got me’. At 16:22:43, which is a fraction of a second, Officer Gruszeczka says ‘Gun, gun, let go of the f******* gun’. At 16:22:45, Officer Gretska says ‘I’m going to shoot you, dude, I’m going to shoot you’. At 16:22:50, you hear a single gunshot,” Chief Acevedo said.

In Friday’s presser, police revealed for the first time that Richardson was not carrying a firearm, but rather a toy pellet gun.

“Folks, I want you to understand that we’ve been having conversations with our Chief of Police since this event occurred,” Councilperson Juan Marcano said. 

Marcano represents the residents of Ward Four on Aurora’s City Council. 

And I did not know that this was a pellet gun, that Jor’Dell had a pellet gun until all of you did just a little while ago today,” Marcano said.

The killing of Jordell Richardson comes nearly four years after the death of Elijah McClain, a case that has become emblematic of the deadly consequences of racial profiling and police brutality.

The rally outside the Aurora Municipal Building became a platform for his family, lawyers, and activists to express their grief, frustration, and demands for justice. 

“An old familiar place. Been here before. Been here, done that,” Pastor Thomas Mayes said.

Pastor Mayes leads the Living Water Christian Center Church in Aurora and has participated in police accountability efforts in the city, including by serving on the Community Police Task Force. 

“Why are we here again? Because our police department, our city has not responded to our cry.” Mayes said.

Family members and lawyers expressed their disbelief that law enforcement officers failed to recognize the distinction between a pellet gun and a real firearm. 

Jor’Dell’s mother, Laurie Littlejohn, spoke about her son’s character as the ‘light’ of the household and the devastating impact his loss has had on their family. 

“To know that the police didn’t even try to think twice that he was a child and that he’s human. People make mistakes, they didn’t give him a chance to redeem himself to suffer the consequences of his actions,” Littlejohn said.

With around 200 people in attendance – including community members, elected officials, racial justice supporters, and gun violence prevention activists – the gathering reflected the widespread concern over the excessive use of force by law enforcement.

“You can’t protest your way out of this alone,” Elisabeth Epps said.

Epps is an abolitionist who recently wrapped up her first session as a state representative. 

“We are here to fellowship, and to be in space together and to be reminded who matters and to support the family, but our work is incomplete if we aren’t doing the things to interrupt being back here,” Epps said.

Epps then shared her own experience of prosecution and conviction for talking back to an Aurora police officer. In 2019, a judge in the municipal building sentenced her to 90 days in jail. The officer remained on the force and later in 2019, was part of a group of police and paramedics involved in the death of Elijah McClain.

The law firm representing Jor’Dell Richardson’s family also represented the family of Elijah McClain. Many of the speakers in attendance have also fought for years for police accountability in the McClain case. That includes Aurora community organizer Candice Bailey, who spoke directly to the youth in attendance.

“Action must happen. Youth, your voices need to be at the table everywhere. You, this is your future. This is your life,” said Bailey. “You are the ones who need to lead the charge. We’re burning out. By the time the things that we have changed, change, we will be gone and you will be left with it. Stand up, this is your future, and do not quiet your voice, ever!”

As the press conference unfolded, the atmosphere was tense. The Aurora Municipal Building was locked, and police officers positioned themselves on the roof, monitoring the situation. 

Throughout the press conference, activists and community members joined together in chants and prayers, seeking justice for Jor’Dell Richardson and demanding an end to police violence. The event ended with a collective prayer, shared embraces, and a commitment to accompany the family in its fight for accountability.  

“We fight, we win, we support, we love, we survive,” Pastor Mayes said.

Kira Z

Kira Z

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