DENVER — Four bystanders who were injured when Denver police officers opened fire outside of a bar in the city’s lower downtown (LoDo) area have filed a lawsuit against one of the involved officers.
In total, six bystanders were injured when three Denver police officers fired their weapons at a man the Denver Police Department said flashed a gun at officers in the early hours of July 17, just as bars were letting out.
The officers were attempting to take Jordan Waddy, 21, into custody after he was allegedly involved in an altercation outside of Larimer Beer Hall.
In surveillance video, Waddy can be seen with his hands up before turning back to the street and putting his left hand in his hoodie with his right hand still in the air. Matt Clark, commander of Denver PD’s Major Crimes Division, said at the time officers told Waddy to stop and show his hands.
“It appeared to the officers that Mr. Waddy was working to retrieve an item from the front pocket of his hoodie with his left hand as he continued moving towards 20th Street, which was in the direction of the crowd in front of the beer hall,” Clark said.
Body camera video shows Waddy pulling the handgun from the lefthand side of his hoodie and throwing it onto the ground as he raises both hands into the air before police began firing at him from the front and the side.
Waddy was wounded and released from the hospital. He was charged with three counts of possession of a weapon by a previous offender and one count of third-degree assault, according to the Denver District Attorney’s Office.
Six bystanders were injured during the shooting. Some of the wounded bystanders were struck by bullets while others were hit by shrapnel.
Though three officers were involved, only one was indicted by a grand jury.
Officer Brandon Ramos was charged with two counts of second degree assault – reckless (felony), three counts of third degree assault – knowing/reckless (misdemeanor), three counts of third degree assault – negligence with a deadly weapon (misdemeanor), one count of prohibited use of a weapon (misdemeanor), and five counts of reckless endangerment (misdemeanor). He was granted a PR bond, according to Denver District Attorney Beth McCann.
Ramos, who joined the department in 2019, was suspended without pay due to the felony charges, which is standard protocol, according to the Denver PD.
Ramos is the only defendant named in the lawsuit.
Denver7 spoke to three of the plaintiffs — Bailey Alexander, Yekalo Weldehiwet and Willis Small IV — one month after they were caught in the shooting. At the time, all three said they were still healing physically and emotionally.
Alexander was shot in her right shoulder and upper right arm. She still has physical impairment at and around the site of her injuries, according to the lawsuit.
The same bullet that hit Alexander struck Weldehiwet in the right arm, shattering his humerus, the lawsuit claims. Weldehiwet underwent surgery and had several metal plates and screws implanted. He still struggles with impairment at the site, according to the lawsuit.
“I felt like I got hit with a baseball at 100 mph,” Weldehiwet told Denver7.
Small was struck, either directly or by a ricochet, on the outside of his left food.
Mark Bess, the fourth plaintiff, was struck by a bullet on the upper portion of his chest, according to the lawsuit. He suffered second-degree burns to the area.
The lawsuit states Bess had to begin seeing a chiropractor due to the force of being knocked down during the shooting.
The lawsuit says the plaintiffs suffered economic damages, including medical expenses and lost wages, as well as noneconomic damages, including emotional distress, due to Ramos’ actions. The four now live “in a state of anxiety and fear in public settings, and particularly in crowds,” the document reads.
The plaintiffs are asking for compensatory and consequential damage, but a specific amount was not listed.
In a statement, Rathod | Mohamedbhai LLC, the law firm representing the four bystanders, said it aims to “hold Officer Ramos accountable in civil proceedings for his extremely reckless act of violence, find justice for the victims, and again demonstrate to the Denver Police Department that the people of Colorado have no tolerance for officers who use excessive, lethal force without justification.”
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