Denver police officer indicted in LoDo shooting that left six bystanders injured
One of three Denver police officers who fired shots into an open crowd that left six people injured in LoDo last July has been formally indicted by a grand jury.
Suspended officer Brandon Ramos faces two counts of second degree assault; three counts of third-degree assault knowing/reckless and another three counts of third-degree assault negligence with a deadly weapon; one count of prohibited use of a weapon; and five counts reckless endangerment, according to court records.
Ramos is currently free on a personal recognizance bond. He served at least three years on the force at DPD and had no prior shooting incidents, police said. He is currently suspended without pay, according to police.
DA Beth McCann said in the statement that the other two officers who fired their guns will not face criminal charges as both the DA and grand jury found that their actions were legally justified. The indictment states this is because they reasonably believed they were in physical danger by Waddy after they saw him pull a gun from his jacket.
The Denver DA’s office said the grand jury heard testimony from 17 witnesses and reviewed 140 exhibits before deciding to indict Ramos. McCann said the case will now move forward in the courts.
“This is a very serious matter and I appreciate the time and attention each of them devoted to this important decision,” she said.
The shooting occurred as people were filling the streets post barclose at around 1:30 a.m. on July 17 near the 2000 block of Larimer Street. The three Denver police officers were pursuing 21-year-old Jordan Waddy who had been involved in a fight before the shooting.
Police say they gave verbal commands for Waddy to stop after learning about the fight. When police confronted him, Waddy backed up onto a sidewalk between a vehicle and a food truck, and disregarded the command, police said. Waddy struggled a bit and eventually removed a black semiautomatic handgun from his jacket pocket. That’s when police fired at least seven rounds toward him.
According to police, one officer fired four rounds at Waddy, and another officer fired two rounds at the same time. A third officer, who had followed Waddy around a vehicle and onto the sidewalk, saw Waddy pointing a gun at the officers across the street and fired shots at Waddy. This third officer — later identified by police as Ramos — feared for the safety of the other two.
The indictment states that Ramos was aware that the other two officers were armed and standing directly in front of Waddy. It also states that Ramos knew there was a large crowd of people behind Waddy and that he didn’t have a clear backdrop. Ramos only saw the side of Waddy when he fired his gun twice at him, the indictment states.
Police said Waddy did not fire his gun at the officers.
Ramos was not in immediate danger when he fired his gun, according to the indictment.
“Officer Ramos’ decision to shoot was not legally justified because it was reckless, unreasonable and unnecessary for the purpose of protecting himself or other officers, and he consciously disregarded an unjustifiable risk of injury to the crowd behind Mr. Waddy,” the indictment reads.
Some of the victims say they are relieved
At least six innocent bystanders were caught in the crossfire, police said. Waddy was also shot, and all survived. The incident left victims and community members looking for answers as to why police would shoot into a crowd.
Three of the victims — Bailey Alexander, 24, Yekalo Weldehiwet, 26 and Willis Small IV, 25, all said they were relieved to learn about Ramos’ indictment on Wednesday.
Alexander, who was shot in the back of her right shoulder, said she has mostly recovered, although there are still bullet fragments in her body. Weldehiwet said his road to recovery is ongoing after a bullet entered the backside of his bicep and shattered his humerus bone. He said it’s still a struggle to lift his arm.
Small was shot in his left foot and, while it no longer hurts him, says he can feel the bullet fragments inside with each step he takes.
“I feel blessed knowing that I was only struck in such a way that no bones were really injured as I could have probably been in a wheelchair, or at least a cast for a good amount of time,” Small said. “I’m definitely blessed to be alive. It’s still unfortunate that this was done to me by somebody who should protect me.”
Weldehiwet said he is in therapy and is still processing the shooting. All three said they still think about the shooting daily.
In addition, police said an additional female suffered a serious leg injury, another female suffered a graze wound on her leg and a man suffered a burn-type injury to his chest.
Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock in a statement released Wednesday said he was surprised Ramos was indicted by a grand jury.
“Police officers make split second decisions under difficult circumstances on a daily basis, and those decisions are rooted in keeping people safe,” Hancock said.
“While the situation remains an unfortunate one, and it’s regrettable that innocent bystanders were injured, I’m surprised to see that the grand jury found the officer’s actions involved criminal intent. As there is now a criminal court case regarding this incident, the city cannot provide additional comments until the case is concluded.”
Ciara Anderson, an attorney from Rathod Mohamedbhai law representing Alexander, Weldehiwet and Small, commended the grand jury and DA’s office for seeking accountability in this case. She said the mayor’s statement that the situation was “regrettable” was not the best word choice, and that “preventable” would have worked better.
And there is more work to be done, Anderson added.
“Our communities are never going to be safe until Denver fixes the problem and turns and looks and says let’s learn from this,” Anderson said Wednesday. “Instead of covering it up and pointing the finger everywhere else.”
To view the article in it’s entirety, visit www.denverite.com.