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Denver police officer faces another lawsuit from injured bystanders in July’s LoDo shooting

Four bystanders allegedly shot by a Denver Police officer last summer in Lower Downtown as police confronted a man with a gun have filed a lawsuit. In the complaint filed Tuesday, the group alleges when Officer Brandon Ramos fired at a man with a crowd of bystanders behind him, Ramos’ “heedless actions resulted in devastating and life-altering injuries to his victims.”

Early in the morning on July 17, as people left bars in Lower Downtown, several police officers responded to a report of a fight involving one man identified as Jordan Waddy. Waddy pulled out a gun when confronted by the officers, and the police department initially said it was brandished at them. Three officers began shooting, injuring Waddy and six bystanders. The new lawsuit claims the two shots fired by Ramos alone were responsible for injuring the bystanders.

Four victims filed the new lawsuit in Denver District Court against Ramos: Bailey Alexander, Mark Bess, Yekalo Weldehiwet and Willis Small IV. They claim Ramos acted recklessly when he fired at Waddy with the crowd of bystanders behind him in the line of fire.

“You see from the videos that were released, he took a position that was facing down the sidewalk and had over 50 bystanders in his immediate line of sight,” said Ciara Anderson, an attorney at the civil rights firm Rathod Mohamedbhai representing Small, Alexander and Weldehiwet. “And so while we can talk about the other officers’ conduct, this officer specifically was the most at fault in that he he recklessly fired down the sidewalk, knowing that there are so many people that (he) could potentially hit.”

Small said in an interview they want to send a message of accountability with their lawsuit, because they feel the police department has not held itself accountable for the shooting.

“Instead they’ve tried to delay, hide and discredit the whole situation. I would even go as far as to say downplay,” he said.

The law firm Fuicelli & Lee represents Bess.

Whether Waddy actually pointed a gun at the police officers has been called into question by civil rights attorneys and the police’s own acknowledgment he held the gun by its top and not the grip. Body camera footage released by the department shows Waddy throwing his gun away as the shooting unfolded.

The new lawsuit is the second by a victim of the shooting to name Ramos. Teacher Angela Rey sued him earlier this year, and said she suffered a permanent injury to her leg. Her attorney said Ramos acted “willfully and wantonly.”

The Denver District Attorney’s Office has charged Ramos with two counts of second-degree assault, both felonies, three counts of third degree knowing or reckless assault, three counts of third-degree assault with negligence with a deadly weapon, one count of prohibited use of a weapon, and five counts of reckless endangerment, all misdemeanors.

A grand jury investigation found the other two officers’ actions legally justified.

“We want the public to stand with us because as you can see, we (are) all different races, religions and walks of life,” Bess said. “So it could have been anybody, not just a certain group.”

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