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Four bystanders shot by Denver police officer in LoDo file civil rights lawsuit over “life-altering injuries”

The Denver police officer who fired into a crowd of Lower Downtown bar patrons while confronting an armed man last summer is facing a new civil rights lawsuit filed by four of the bystanders he shot and injured.

Victims Bailey Alexander, Mark Bess, Yekalo Weldehiwet and Willis Small IV filed the lawsuit Tuesday morning in Denver District Court alleging Officer Brandon Ramos recklessly opened fire on the armed man despite the large crowd standing in the direction of the officer’s shots.

“From this angle, the odds that Defendant Officer Ramos would shoot pedestrians were virtually certain,” the lawsuit filed by the Rathod Mohamedbhai law firm states.

A grand jury in January indicted Ramos on assault and reckless endangerment charges in connection with the July 17 shooting that injured six bystanders. Ramos was suspended from the police department without pay after he was indicted.

All four of the lawsuit’s plaintiffs were enjoying a night out in the popular LoDo bars district near 20th and Larimer streets. They were standing near a food truck outside the Larimer Beer Hall as bars let out for the night when the shooting occurred.

While monitoring the crowd, Denver police officers in the area followed a man they believed to be involved in a fight and who they thought might be armed. Officers confronted the man, Jordan Waddy, as he walked near the Larimer Beer Hall. When he stopped, he grabbed a handgun hidden in his waistband and threw it to the ground.

Three officers — Ramos, Kenneth Rowland and Megan Lieberson — fired at Waddy after he grabbed the gun, though police acknowledged that he grabbed the gun from the top and not the grip.

Rowland and Lieberson faced Waddy from the front and the grand jury found that none of the rounds they fired injured bystanders, according to the indictment.

But Ramos stood to Waddy’s side. Neither of his two rounds struck Waddy and instead flew into the crowd of more than 50 people gathered near the food truck, the lawsuit states.

The bullet that struck Weldehiwet shattered a bone in his arm, which required surgery to repair. The bullet that struck Alexander entered her shoulder and exited her upper right arm. Small was injured in the foot by a bullet and Bess suffered a graze wound to his chest.

Beyond physical pain, all four people now fear crowds and public settings, the lawsuit states.

“Officer Ramos’ heedless actions resulted in devastating and life-altering injuries to his victims,” the lawsuit states. “Bailey Alexander, Yekalo Weldehiwet, Willis Small IV and Mark Bess will each bear the resulting scars for the remainder of their lives.”

The lawsuit filed Tuesday is the second against Ramos in connection to the shooting. A woman allegedly shot in the leg by Ramos sued the officer in March.

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