Son of Bronze Star recipient shot dead by Colorado police says his dad was a ‘hero’
iStock/Thinkstock(AURORA, Colo.) — As a young man, Richard “Gary” Black Jr. received the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for his courageous service during the Vietnam War, during which he was taken prisoner and injured multiple times.
A 1966 graduate of The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, Black came back to the United States a battle-scarred hero. And his stepson, Chad Hayashi, told ABC News on Wednesday that his father died a hero early Monday morning, shot dead by someone sent to protect him.
The 73-year-old Black had just saved his son and 11-year-old grandson by shooting dead an intruder who broke into their Aurora, Colorado, home. But just as one nightmare ended, another began when Black went to the front door of his home and was fatally shot by a police officer.
“I want answers. I want the truth. I want accountability,” Hayashi told ABC News.
“My dad was a hero — period,” he said. “He’s been a hero in this country since 1966, and he needs to be recognized as such.”
Aurora Police officials are expected to hold a press conference Thursday to publicly discuss what happened at Black’s home on East Montview Boulevard around 1:30 a.m. Monday when officers arrived after Black’s wife, Jeanette, called 911 to report a stranger had entered their home.
Police officials confirmed to ABC News on Wednesday that the officer who shot Black had been involved in another fatal shooting in June that remains under investigation. The officer’s name has not been released.
“I want it all out there,” Hayashi told ABC News. “I want every bodycam. Every officer I saw had a bodycam on. So there should be 20 bodycam videos. I want to see them all.”
In his only public comment on the incident so far, Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz wrote in a statement Tuesday that he is “committed to being transparent and sharing information as soon as possible.”
“This incident was not only tragic, but incredibly heartbreaking for the involved family, the community and our department,” Metz wrote.
Police officials said they’ve been instructed by the 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, which is investigating the case with the Denver Police Department, not to say anything about the case until the press conference.
Metz said the officers involved in the incident have been placed on administrative reassignment with pay, per the department’s policy.
Hayashi said police officials better have their stories straight when they go public.
He said he was there when the horrific ordeal went down and knows exactly what happened — and how his father died in handcuffs on the floor of his own home.
‘A lot of commotion’
Hayashi had gone to bed around 10:30 p.m. Sunday. Earlier that day, he had taken his young son and daughter to Breckenridge, Colorado, a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, where they went shopping, had lunch and had a tiring but “great day,” he said.
His 11-year-old son crashed on the couch in the living room, while Hayashi shuffled off to his bedroom and fell asleep wearing headphones.
“Initially, I didn’t hear anything,” he said. “Then I heard a lot of commotion.”
It was after 1 a.m.
“I opened my bedroom door, and there’s a woman standing there, and she starts saying to me, ‘My son is on drugs and he has your baby,'” Hayashi said.
Hayashi said he had never seen the woman in his life and noticed another stranger in his house standing off to his right side. He said he saw the bathroom light on, and panic coursed through his body when he remembered his son had fallen asleep on the couch.
“I just immediately shot into the bathroom to find this naked guy soaking wet — like, on his back with his feet out of the tub, choking my son, biting his left ear, and there’s blood coming out of my son’s ear,” he said.
He said the intruder had also stripped his son naked before pulling him into the tub and turning the water on.
Hayashi said he dove on top of the attacker and began trying desperately to free his boy, who was screaming. He said the attacker, whose name has not been released, was silent and his eyes were closed.
“I jabbed him up in the throat with my thumb to get him to release the bite and then I started wailing on him, and he wouldn’t let go of the choke. And at one point, I had jabbed my right thumb into his left eye socket all the way up to the first knuckle. And when he didn’t squeal in pain, I got even more worried. But eventually, he let go of my son.”
Hayashi said that once he got his son free, he pulled the man out of the tub. He said he noticed that his stepfather, Black, was in the bathroom as the intruder suddenly became combative again.
“He tackles my dad into the shower. It’s got sliding doors on the shower. The door falls. It breaks the waterline off the toilet, which starts spraying water,” he said.
He said Black managed to fend off the man as he and his dad reached to shut off the water valve to the broken line.
Intruder shot dead
While Hayashi was relieved he had gotten his son free of the attacker, the violent encounter was far from over.
“This naked guy is standing behind my dad, and grabbed a porcelain flower vase and smashed him on the top of the head, and they struggled some more,” Hayashi said. “My dad rotates, and he was wearing a bathrobe. He had a smaller-carry weapon, and that’s what he pulled out and shot the guy twice in the torso.”
Black had a legal permit to carry a concealed weapon, Hayashi added.
The intruder hit the floor, sprawled out from the bathtub to the wall.
“My dad exited the bathroom, went around the corner. And I immediately heard multiple shots, which I thought was my dad engaging these other people in the house,” Hayashi said. “There was a pause, and then I hear people enter the house.”
He recalled hearing three shots, followed by officers yelling, “Police.”
“They shot the first thing they saw moving, in my opinion,” Hayashi said. “All the officer’s spent cartridges were outside the house. So, they shot through the open door into the house.”
David Brown, the former police chief of Dallas, Texas, told ABC News that officers, in general, should always identify themselves when they arrive at a chaotic scene.
“You want to make contact. You want to identify yourself as a police officer even though you are in uniform and marked squad car. You want to make sure the homeowner clearly understands you are on the scene,” Brown said.
He said that if the evidence shows that police did shoot through the door of the home, it would be a “tactical error.”
“It’s not advised,” Brown said. “It’s so tactically unsound. And, from a safety standpoint, one of the worst things you can do is discharging your weapon.”
‘I knew when I touched him that he was gone’
Hayashi said his son started screaming at police, saying, “‘I’m here with my dad. This crazy guy tried to attack me.'”
“Then,” Hayashi said, “officers entered the bathroom, and that’s when I realized my son was naked as well as this man. I grabbed a towel and wrapped it around my son because he was soaking wet and bleeding.”
He said he lifted his son up and handed him over the dead man’s body to a police officer.
“Officers are rushing me out of the house, and as I turn the corner, my dad is down, face down, kind of rotated to the right and I can see the left side of his face and he’s handcuffed,” Hayashi said. “I reach down, and I don’t remember if I touched his shoulder or his face, but he looked at me and I got pushed off by an officer and out the door.”
The long wait
He said he glanced back at the house as he was being led down the driveway and saw that the heavy oak front door had been knocked down. It was propped up against his mother’s sewing machine, the one she uses to make blankets for Aurora police officers.
As police were putting him in the back of a patrol car, the woman he initially encountered in his house when he opened his bedroom door was standing across the street, yelling, “You shot my baby.”
He said he then started yelling at the police, “‘That’s the woman who was in my house. You need to get her and whoever else is here.'”
Hayashi said he and his mother were taken to police headquarters and placed in a room with the woman who claimed to be the dead attacker’s mother and another man he assumed was in his house too. He said he got into a yelling match with the man and almost came to blows before police moved him and his mom to another room.
“My mom keeps asking, ‘How’s my husband? How’s my grandbaby?'” he said, adding that he was unable to bring himself to tell her that he believed Black was dead.
After waiting for several hours, Hayashi and his mother gave police their statements and then were led into another room where a police commander told them about Black.
Before leaving the police station, Hayashi said, a police official told him something about Black that isn’t true.
“I was told that he was told to drop the weapon and he didn’t,” Hayashi said. “I never heard anything about ‘drop your weapon.’ There was no warning at all. They should have been yelling from the moment they hit the driveway, 80 feet down. It’s a long driveway. They should have been yelling, especially as many police officers as there were on scene.”
Hayashi told ABC News that his mother and Black had been married for 39 years, and that they had raised him and his siblings to always respect the law.
“She’s a wreck,” he said of his mother. “She was injured trying to exit the house, and it’s just horrific.”
He said that, as a boy, he remembered seeing his stepfather’s medals from Vietnam.
“I’ve seen his Purple Heart and his Bronze Star, but he never bragged,” he said. “He was in military intelligence and that was classified, and he didn’t talk about it. He was a graduate of The Citadel, the class of ’66, and he immediately went to Vietnam for three or four years. He was injured multiple times and medically discharged.”
He said that when he was in high school, Black went back to school and got a double degree in computer science and accounting. He ended up landing a job at the U.S. Treasury Department and retired from the agency.
He said his father, who would mow neighbors’ lawns when they were sick, spent most of his time gardening and doting on his four grandchildren.
“That was his world,” Hayashi said, adding that Black had even built a zipline in his backyard for his grandkids to play on. “It’s just heartbreaking. My dad was the nicest guy. He was quiet and very, very reserved. I think everybody who ever met him liked him.”
In the week before Black’s shooting, his son had gone to the Commerce City, Colorado, Cop Camp for Kids in Grand Peaks, according to Hayashi.
“On Sunday morning,” Hayashi said, “had you asked my son what he thought of police officers, he would have told you, ‘They’re the baddest dudes ever.'”
Hayashi’s son woke up early and went on hikes with officers every morning at camp.
“And now all he can think about is, the police shot his grandfather and he saw his grandfather handcuffed, and now he can’t understand why they wouldn’t help him,” Hayashi said. “He’s just traumatized.”
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