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A police SWAT team in Aurora, Colo., ended an hours-long standoff with a black male suspect and then reportedly let him go despite holding at least one child hostage for hours and having valid arrest warrants in order to “deescalate” the situation.
Police responded to the home of Eric Burns, 39, Sept. 24 in response to what they described as a “felony child abuse investigation,” according to CBS4. The department noted that Burns “had a valid misdemeanor no bond DV (domestic violence) warrant out of Denver” for allegedly assaulting his son and abusing his daughter.
SWAT officers were called after Burns holed up in his home, and a stand-off ensued for about four hours as hostage negotiators attempted to convince him to release his children. Officers also believed he had guns in his home and that he himself was armed.
Burns would eventually release his 6-year-old daughter but he would not give himself up, the local outlet reported. But when he wouldn’t, there was a “[d]ecision made to vacate,” an internal Aurora police report says.
Officers and SWAT team members, along with negotiators simply packed up and left Burns in his home, despite the warrants.
Later, in fact, Aurora PD would discover that Burns was also wanted on a felony kidnapping warrant issued by Black Hawk police, though they claimed not to have known about that warrant at the time of the stand-off.
“We were pretty shocked,” neighbor Jasmine Staats told CBS4. “We thought for sure they would have arrested someone. It’s quite concerning they would do that. If someone’s got a warrant out for their arrest, why wouldn’t they have been arrested?”
And now, Burns is gone; Aurora police told the outlet they can’t find him and don’t know where he might be.
The department would not comment on the Burns incident specifically but did release a statement to the local outlet.
“Members of our community and across the nation have made it very clear that they want their police department to respond differently to some incidents, particularly when there is a possibility of using serious force against a subject,” it said, adding that “avoiding unnecessary confrontations was now a top priority for the department.”
“Sometimes this means walking away from a situation and utilizing investigative resources to apprehend persons at a later time,” the statement said, without elaborating further.
Neighbor Craig Miller told the outlet that from across the street he saw a “huge police presence,” adding that “after four hours and that kind of police response you kind of assume it’s ending with them taking somebody into custody.
“Pretty surprising that after that kind of response and that kind of action that there wasn’t an arrest made,” he told CBS4.
The Burns incident isn’t the first time Aurora police, utilizing new ‘de-escalation’ policies, have walked away from suspects who are wanted.
Earlier last month, officers walked away twice from arresting a 47-year-old black man accused of terrorizing residents at an apartment complex and even exposing himself to children, CBS4 noted in a separate report.
“I totally understand that there’s people that were, that felt like they were abandoned,” said Aurora Police Deputy Chief Darin Parker.
CBS4 reported, “The suspect in the case — Robert Thompson, 47 — has a 10-page criminal record including violent assaults, drug charges, burglary, criminal mischief and resisting arrest. But Thompson’s friend, Leander Mccoy, agreed to allow Thompson to stay at his apartment in late August.”
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