The City and County of Denver continues to deal with legal fallout from the Denver Police Department’s actions during last summer’s racial-justice protests. At least five lawsuits have been filed to date, including a complaint by Michael Acker that contends the DPD shot to maim. But Russell Strong’s salvo, submitted this week, could be the most shocking.
According to attorney Matthew Cron of Denver-based Rathod Mohamedbhai LLC, which represents Strong, his client lost an eye after being struck by a kinetic-impact projectile, or KIP, as Denver police officers confronted demonstrators. At the time, Strong was holding a sign displaying a peace symbol while standing behind a group of fellow participants kneeling with their hands up.
“It was an extremely peaceful gathering, from everything we’ve been able to discern — when, without warning, officers simply began firing on this crowd,” Cron explains. “One eyewitness said that when the kneeling protesters got up to run, police started shooting them in the back. And what purpose could it possibly serve for officers to be deploying force on individuals who were actively leaving the scene, except to inflict pain, exact revenge and cause carnage?”
Asked about the Strong lawsuit, a Denver Police Department spokesperson offers this response: “Out of respect for the court process, we are unable to provide comment at this time due to pending litigation.”
Cron, however, has plenty to say about what happened to Strong on May 30 at Civic Center Park.
“Our client went to the park to exercise his freedom of speech — to peacefully assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances,” he says. “All he did was stand in the park holding a sign in a relatively sparsely populated demonstration when, all of a sudden, the police started firing KIPs. Mr. Strong was struck in the face, and it shattered bones in his eye socket. Ultimately, he had to have his eye removed a few days after being shot. The damage was so severe that doctors couldn’t save it.”
KIPs are often categorized as being less than lethal, but Cron questions this designation. “I believe it’s a misnomer,” he says, “since it implies that such weapons cannot inflict lethal force, and that’s simply untrue. Such weaponry has been known to cause death and serious bodily injury, and the damage they did to civilians in Denver and elsewhere in Colorado proves their danger.”