Wife of unarmed Black man fatally shot by Aurora police says husband complied with police orders

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Several people pose with pictures of a loved one who was shot and killed by police near a government building.
Molly Cruse/CPR News
Kylin Lewis’s family stand outside of the Aurora Municipal Center. They were joined by approximately forty other demonstrators who were calling for the immediate arrest of Officer Dieck, the Aurora police officer who fatally shot Lewis. (From left to right: Kiawa Lewis, Candice Bailey, LaRonda Jones, Anndrec Lewis, Robert Lewis, and Sherdina Lewis)

Anndrec Lewis never thought she’d be thrust into the role of an activist – speaking out against police violence targeting Black citizens. But she said she can’t let another fatal police shooting go unnoticed, especially since the man shot was her husband.

Kilyn Lewis, 37, was fatally shot by a police officer in the parking area of an Aurora apartment complex on May 23. Police body camera footage shows Aurora SWAT team members confronting Lewis and shouting multiple commands.

In the video, Lewis can be seen putting one hand in his front pocket and for a moment, using his other hand to reach into his back pocket as he turns toward officers. He then puts his hand out holding what turned out to be a cell phone. The sound of a single gunshot then rings out. Lewis falls to the ground and he can be heard calling out “I don’t have nothing. I don’t have nothing,” ostensibly telling police he doesn’t have a weapon. The bullet hit Lewis in the abdomen and he died in a hospital two days later.

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Kiawa Lewis, center, speaks to supporters before an Aurora City Council session on Monday evening, June 24, 2024. His brother Kilyn was shot by Aurora Police Officer Michael Dieck in May.

The death of an unarmed Black man at the hands of Aurora police comes nearly five years after the killing of Elijah McClain in 2019, also by Aurora Police. Following McClain’s death, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser conducted a year-long investigation into the Aurora Police and Fire Departments and identified a “pattern and practice of racially-biased policing.” The investigation found that nearly half of the people the Aurora Police used force against were Black, even though Black residents make up about 15% of Aurora's population.

In 2021, the city of Aurora signed a consent decree with the state, which lays out a series of reforms around hiring, training and the use of force. 

To add to the city’s woes, the department has had significant turnover in its leadership, with five different police chiefs in as many years. Heather Morris, who is the latest to head the department, was named interim chief in January.

Lewis was a suspect in a shooting of a man in Denver on May 5 and Denver police had obtained a warrant for his arrest. Officials said the DPD had asked for help from Aurora police to locate Lewis and said officers had been following Lewis over the course of two days. On the day of the shooting, it was the Aurora Police’s SWAT team that confronted Lewis at the apartment complex and officer Michael Dieck fired the fatal shot.

Denver Police had obtained a warrant for Lewis, who was a suspect in a shooting of a man in Denver on May 5 and asked the Aurora Police Department for assistance. According to officials, DPD and APD officers had been following Lewis for two days. On the day of the shooting, Aurora PD’s SWAT team confronted Lewis at an apartment complex. APD Officer Michael Dieck fired the single, fatal shot.

Body-worn camera video showing Kilyn Lewis lowering onto the ground next to a red car while law enforcement surround him with guns drawn.
Screen grab from video released by the Aurora Police Department.
Body-worn camera video showing Kilyn Lewis holding a cellphone with both hands up when an Aurora police officer shot and killed him May 2024.

Officials released about five minutes of footage from various police body cameras narrated by interim Chief Morris, who says Lewis did not obey commands to get on the ground. 

“Instead he moves toward the driver's side door. He places his left hand into his pants pocket and his right hand behind his back out of view,” Morris said.

The officer, Michael Dieck, is on paid leave as the department conducts an internal investigation and the 18th Judicial District does its own investigation. The Aurora Police Department said it won't comment further until after the investigations are complete. Both Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser and Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman also declined to comment.

Kilyn Lewis and wife Anndrec Lewis, he appears to be standing behind her with his arms wrapped around her. There is a filter on the photo showing hearts to the bottom left of the image.
Courtesy Estate of Kilyn Lewis
Kilyn Lewis and wife Anndrec. Lewis was fatally shot in an Aurora Police officer in May 2024.

Anndrec Lewis, Kilyn Lewis’ wife said she and other families had watched a short portion of the police body camera footage at the police department. Anndrec said she believes her husband tried to comply with police orders and drop to the ground.  

“You could clearly see he's surprised. He's literally turning around and there's four cops with big guns towards him,” said Anndrec Lewis. “So it's like ‘What do you think any other human would do? And it's crazy because even on the body cam you could see the other three officers, they all look at him [like] what did you just do?’”

Lewis added that her husband knew, especially as a Black man, to follow police orders.

“That's why he started bending to [go] down, putting his hands up, things that a Black man has to do with police,” said Lewis. “He did that and he still got shot. And being in Aurora, Colorado, especially Aurora, Colorado, you can ask any Black man … they're all going to tell you the same thing … 'We stay away from police. Police are targeting us.’”

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Demonstrators briefly shut down an Aurora City Council meeting Monday evening, June 24, 2024, as they speak out in protest against Aurora Police Officer Michael Dieck, who shot and killed unarmed Kilyn Lewis in May.

Anndrec Lewis and other members of Lewis’ family have hired attorney Ed Hopkins of the prominent Denver civil rights firm Rathod Mohamedbhai, LLC, who said the footage indicated major missteps made by the Aurora Police Department’s SWAT team during the incident, including commands that were unclear and confusing.

“They don't announce who they are. They don't tell him he's under arrest, “ Hopkins said. The first thing they start doing is … start shouting at him while holding AR-15 (rifles) and handguns. They bark multiple inconsistent commands at Mr. Lewis simultaneously.”

Hopkins said anyone in those circumstances would have been startled and uncertain how to respond.

“We all know how we're going to react if suddenly some people we don't know for reasons we don't know, jump out of cars and start yelling and screaming at us,” Hopkins said. “This is the same thing you would see if you were getting carjacked. This is the same thing you would see if gangsters decided to make you the target of a robbery.”

Kilyn Lewis stands with his mother fishing in front of a body of water with trees in the distance. His mother stands to his left holding a fishing pole.
Courtesy Rathod Mohamedbhai LLC
Kilyn Lewis with his mother LaRonda Jones.

Anndrec Lewis said the family wants the District Attorney for the 18th district, John Kellner, to prosecute officer Michael Dieck or they want the case put in the hands of a grand jury, which would decide if the officer should face charges.

Hopkins says once the firm receives all the police camera video, attorneys and Lewis’ family will examine it and then decide when to file a lawsuit. 

Alison Coombs, Aurora City Council Member At-Large, said she had been in contact with Kilyn Lewis’ family, who are “rightly devastated and outraged that in an ongoing way in the city of Aurora [that] we have unarmed folks being shot by our police. Killed by our police.”

She added that the incident wasn’t surprising, given the current consent decree and Aurora’s history, that unarmed black men were being killed in the city. 

Coombs said she planned to push for a resolution in the City Council to officially apologize to the family, but she said until the investigations are complete, it would be premature to take any other type of official action.