When the governor informed survivors and victims' family members that he was commuting the sentence of I-70 truck driver Rogel Aguilera-Mederos from 110 years to 10 years, it did not go well.
"It is my hope that this gives you some closure on this," said Gov. Jared Polis during a Zoom call last Thursday.
"No, it doesn't," said one of the victims' family members. "This is entirely political."
"You are just victimizing us again," said another person on the video call.
A recording of the meeting was shared with "Next with Kyle Clark." The governor was not aware the meeting was being recorded.
"The punishment that he receives will be what any Coloradan would normally receive for this type of crime on the severe end," said Polis on the call.
On Friday, the district attorney's office released the trial evidence, including videos shown during the trial. One video showed the truck speeding along I-70 from a surveillance camera at an auto dealership.
Another video, from a Colorado State Patrol trooper's dash cam, showed the truck speed by on the shoulder of I-70, just before it crashed at the Denver West Parkway bridge in 2019. About 10 seconds after the collision, in the distance, a black mushroom cloud erupts.
On Jan. 13, the judge in the case was supposed to have a hearing to reconsider the sentence, after a request by Democratic First Judicial District D.A. Alexis King. Because of the governor's commutation, that hearing was vacated.
"Why is waiting two weeks not the right thing to do?" a victim's family member asked during last week's Zoom call.
"Well again, based on our last conversation, I would've done this last week, but I told you I'd wait past Monday, to see if the courts did anything. They didn't," said Polis.
"They set the date," multiple people said in response to the governor.
"OK," said Polis.
Families were looking for an explanation, but got a repeated answer.
"Why did you think that you should do this instead of passing on it? Why is it not the right thing to wait two weeks?" asked a victim's family member.
"I'll read that section of the paragraph — of the letter again," said Polis.
"No. No. You're not answering my question," the victim's family member said.
"I answered that very question," said Polis.
Kyle Clark with 9News, The Denver Gazette's news partner, interviewed the governor Wednesday and asked the same question the family members tried to get answered.
Clark: "Why didn't you let it play out before you intervened?"
Polis: "So here's why, this isn't the fault of the judge who passed the sentence. The judge's hands were tied."
That was true at sentencing.
Because of state law, based on the charges Aguilera-Mederos was found guilty of, he was sentenced to 110 years. Based on King's request to have the judge reconsider, a different part of the judicial process allowed the judge to consider changing the sentence.
Family members 9News heard from wanted the judge to reconsider, not the governor — and certainly not the governor based on input he received from celebrities.
Multiple sources have told Next that the governor spoke directly with Kim Kardashian West about this commutation.
Last week, he did not answer yes or not when we asked if he spoke with her.
This week, he avoided the answer again.
Clark: "And what did Kim Kardashian West want you to do?"
Polis: "Well, I haven't read all of her tweets. There were certainly people that wanted a complete pardoning of the crime."