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Aurora police officer who fatally shot parolee was honored for response to theater shooting

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AURORA, Colorado — An Aurora police officer who shot and killed an unarmed parolee last week is a member of the city's SWAT team who earned accolades for helping save lives during the Colorado theater shooting, authorities said Thursday.

Police on Thursday identified the officer as Paul Jerothe, who has been on the Aurora Police Department for nine years. Jerothe had never been involved in a shooting before March 6, when he fatally shot Naeschylus Vinzant, 37, Sgt. Chris Amsler said. Officers were trying to arrest Vinzant, a parolee who had removed a state Department of Corrections ankle monitor. Police say he was also wanted on assault, robbery, kidnapping and domestic violence charges.

Detectives interviewed Jerothe on Thursday. A group of about 40 people gathered Wednesday to demand answers about the shooting, which remains under investigation.

Chief Nicholas Metz says providing more information would jeopardize the probe.

On the SWAT team, Jerothe also has the abilities of a paramedic. The National Tactical Officers Association honored him in 2013 for his role in responding to the July 20, 2012, attack at an Aurora movie theater that left 12 dead and 70 others injured. The organization said Jerothe helped teach other officers about "combat casualty care."

The police department also honored him after the theater shooting.

District Attorney Pete Weir's office in neighboring Jefferson County is handling the investigation into the shooting of Vinzant. District Attorney George Brauchler's office, which is seeking the death penalty against theater shooting defendant James Holmes and expects to call many police officers as witnesses, will not be involved in the case.

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