DENVER (AP) — The Denver district attorney says she is opening a grand jury investigation into the actions of three police officers who injured six bystanders while shooting an armed suspect in a busy downtown Denver nightlife area last month. past.
The officers had already been placed on administrative leave pending a separate internal investigation into the July 17 shooting, which occurred as dozens of patrons were leaving bars that were closing for the night in the city’s Lower Center neighborhood.
“Public interest in this particular shooting is understandably high,” District Attorney Beth McCann said in a statement announcing the new investigation Tuesday. “In order for the community to have confidence in the outcome of this incident, it is important that independent members of the community review the facts, evidence and the law regarding whether these officers should be criminally charged.”
Police have said the three officers, whose names have not been released, fired seven times in the confrontation with suspect Jordan Waddy, who police say was armed. Gunfire erupted as a nearby group of partygoers emerged from a bar and gathered at a food truck.
Officers were following Waddy, 21, after they saw him punch another man during a fight, police said.
Body camera footage released by Denver police Tuesday appears to show Waddy holding a gun and tossing it to the ground as officers opened fire. Police previously said Waddy was holding a firearm before the shooting.
At least one officer shot Waddy as he was facing a crowd of people gathered behind the suspect, the video shows. When the shots rang out, the crowd dispersed. Some people fell to the ground in a rush to escape and others ducked behind the food truck or crawled on all fours.
Waddy, who sustained non-life-threatening injuries, was arrested on suspicion of threat and possession of a weapon by a prior offender. Court records say he is represented by an attorney from the public defender’s office, who does not comment on the cases.
Six bystanders were injured, and authorities said all received hospital treatment for non-life-threatening injuries.
Siddhartha Rathod, a lawyer representing injured bystanders, welcomed the investigation announced by McCann.
Willis Small IV, 24, said in an interview that he was near the food truck when he felt a bullet or bullet fragment enter his left foot. Looking down to see a hole in his shoe, Small jumped into his car and drove to the hospital.
Yekalo Weldehiwet, 26, was outside the bar after celebrating his fiancée’s brother’s 23rd birthday when a bullet shattered a bone in his upper arm. His right arm went limp, “like a noodle,” he said, and he supported him with his left arm as he ran.
Bailey Alexander, 24, who was waiting in line at the food truck with her boyfriend, said she felt blood rush to her body after a bullet or bullet fragment tore through her upper back. and came out of his right arm. Alexander’s boyfriend held her around her waist as they fled.
Speaking to reporters last month, Denver Police Cmdr. Matt Clark said officials “are deeply concerned for those who were injured during the incident and are working to provide them with every resource and support as they heal.”
Jesse Bedayn is a staff member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercover issues. Follow Bedayn on Twitter.
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