An Aurora police officer will not face criminal charges after shooting an armed man through the front window of the man’s house, prosecutors announced Friday.
Officer Alexander Ord reasonably believed that he was in danger when he opened fire the night of Oct. 10 and shot Andrew Huff in the buttocks, according to a letter from the 18th District Attorney’s Office explaining the decision to not charge Ord.
“An officer’s perception that the suspect knows police are there, coupled with his darting movements in front of the window, his reappearance holding a rifle, and his movement back to a place of ‘cover’ would cause a reasonable officer to conclude that the male intended them harm,” the letter states. “Additionally, a reasonable officer would conclude that a person holding a rifle could imminently become a lethal threat: the person need only point the gun and shoot.”
But Huff’s attorney maintained Friday that his client did not know it was police on his lawn when he grabbed a shotgun.
“They snuck up on Mr. Huff,” attorney Birk Baumgartner said. “They never identified themselves even once.”
Aurora police first responded to Huff’s home earlier in the day after a fight between Huff and his roommate. Officers spoke with Huff, then left. Baumgartner said Huff provided officers with this phone number and cooperated with their investigation.
About 10:47 p.m., the roommate reported the fight to police, according to the district attorneys’ letter. The bruised roommate told police that Huff pointed a gun at him during the fight.
Four police officers then drove to Huff’s home about 11:30 p.m. and parked their cars around the corner from the house. The officers said they saw a man, later believed to be Huff, standing at the end of the driveway. The man ran inside the home as they approached.
The officers then walked up to the house and reported seeing a man appear in the front window before moving to a place they couldn’t see him anymore. An officer knocked on the front door.
Ord stood on the front lawn as others approached the door and said he saw the man run out of sight and then return with a gun with the barrel pointed up. Ord then yelled, “Put your hands up! Put your hands up!” He opened fire a split second later, body camera footage shows.
“Officer Ord, who had the best view into the home and thus of Andrew Huff’s actions, believed they were going to be shot: he saw concerning movements, he saw the male disappear and reappear with a rifle in hand, and he saw the male appear to take cover behind a wall,” the prosecutors’ letter states.
Huff called 911 to report he’d been shot.
When asked who shot him, Huff said: “I don’t know. I think it was the cops. I don’t know who it was! I just got shot!”
Officers later told investigators that they believed Huff knew they were police, though body camera footage shows they never announced who they were. Standing in his well-lit house, Huff could not distinguish that it was officers in the dark yard, Baumgartner has said.
A woman who was inside the house reported to police that Huff made a comment to her that “there’s cops in our yard” before grabbing his gun, according to the letter. Prosecutors used this as evidence that Huff knew who was outside.
But Baumgartner said the comment was taken out of context and that Huff said it “might” be police outside. Huff was worried that his angry roommate would come back to the house, where his wife and daughter were, Baumgartner said. Based on his conversations with police earlier that day, Huff believed the police were helping him in the conflict with his roommate.
“Andy at this point believes the police are on his side,” Baumgartner said. “Why would he arm himself against them? They’re ignoring the entire day’s activities. They are taking it out of context.”
Huff faces criminal charges in connection to the incident with his roommate: second- and third-degree assault as well as felony menacing.
Huff continues to wear a colonoscopy bag because the bullet severed his colon, Baumgartner said. Huff is scheduled for a seventh surgery on the wound soon.
“He’s alive, but he’s going to be disabled for the rest of his life because of this,” the attorney said.
Ord was completing his field training at the time of the shooting, according to the prosecutors’ letter.
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