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Video of Colorado officer shooting Vietnam veteran released as prosecutors decline charges

Richard "Gary" Black Jr. had just shot and killed a man who was attacking his son and grandson in his Aurora home.

A Colorado police officer who shot and killed a 73-year-old veteran who was protecting his family from an invader in his home will not face criminal charges, a district attorney announced Monday as body camera footage of the shooting was released.

Richard "Gary" Black Jr. was fatally shot three times by Officer Drew Limbaugh, one of the Aurora Police Department officers who responded to reports of a violent break-in at a home on July 30.

After reviewing body camera video and interviewing multiple witnesses, prosecutors determined Limbaugh was "justified in using force to protect himself from what he reasonably perceived to be the use of deadly physical force," said a 26-page report from District Attorney Dave Young of the 17th Judicial District released Monday.

The Aurora Police Department said Monday that Limbaugh has been working in a "non-enforcement role," and the department would open their own investigation into the incident.

The videos released by the department show officers approached the house and heard shots from inside. The gunfire they heard was Black shooting and killing Dajon Harper, an intruder who was in the process of attacking his son and grandson in the bathroom, according to the district attorney's report.

But officers didn't know that, the report said.

While they were standing outside, one man was visible inside the house, the body camera video showed.

"Gun! Gun! Drop the gun! Let me see your hands!” officers were heard yelling. But "for reasons unknown to those officers, the man did not respond to commands to drop the weapon," a police statement said.

“Guy in the robe’s got the gun,” an officer said, according to the video. Then, shots were fired, and the man fell to the floor.

"Officer Limbaugh stated that he felt like he had to shoot the man, because it was not an option to 'wait and see what happens,'" said the report from the district attorney. "He could not recall whether the man pointed the gun at him."

After Black was shot, one of the officers can be heard in the video saying: “We have a baby. Supposedly we have a baby inside.”

Shortly before Black died, he told the officers that "my son and my grandson are in the bathroom with the perpetrator," the district attorney's report said.

When police found the child and brought him into the living room, he pointed to Black, lying on the floor, and said, "That's my grandpa, he saved me," according to the report.

A medical examiner determined that Black, a Vietnam Army veteran, died of multiple gunshot wounds.

An attorney for the Black family, Qusair Mohamedbhai, told NBC affiliate KUSA that they believe Black's legacy has been "tarnished and sullied by our government and their efforts to protect a police officer."

Mohamedbhai told NBC News that the family had hoped the district attorney would bring charges so that a jury could decide whether or not Limbaugh's actions were criminal.

He said the family has not yet decided if they are going to bring a civil suit, but "they are very open to dialogue with the Aurora Police Department ... to avoid this in the future."

The district attorney's report said Limbaugh "made a split-second decision based on his assessment of the circumstances surrounding the scene." The report said Limbaugh believed Black had "killed people inside the house and presented a threat to the officers exposed at the front door."

Limbaugh has worked for the Aurora Police Department since 2015. On June 27, 2018, Limbaugh fatally shot another man who had pointed a handgun at the officer but was unable to fire it because of a weapon malfunction, according to the district attorney's office.

After that shooting, Limbaugh was placed on administrative leave and underwent a psychological assessment and counseling. He was also found legally justified in that shooting, according to an Aug. 28 report by George H. Brauchler, the district attorney for Colorado's 18th Judicial District.

Limbaugh returned to duty on July 15, just over two weeks before Black was killed.