DENVER – The Denver Police Department has released the bodycam video of the police shooting that left six bystanders injured in Lower Downtown on July 17.
In a critical incident briefing accompanying the bodycam footage, the commander of the Denver Police Department’s Major Crimes Division, Matt Clark, said DPD officers were patrolling around 1:35 a.m. when they observed a fight between multiple people outside the Larimer Beer Hall.
Involved in that altercation was 21-year-old Jordan Waddy, who was captured on video shoving and punching a bystander outside the venue.
Clark claimed in the incident briefing released Tuesday that an officer who witnessed the assault “observed Mr. Waddy may have had a firearm concealed in his hoodie or waistband,” and the information was then communicated to the other officers in the area.
Police then flashed their flashlights and identified themselves as police officers to the crowd as they approached the sidewalk outside bar.
HALO video from the area shows Waddy turning back and walking onto the sidewalk before walking north away from the officers and into the crowd.
At the same time, bodycam video shows the officers walking parallel to Waddy as he emerged from between two parked vehicles before he was contacted by officers.
In the 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. Clark claims officers then 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.
He then claims what he has repeated in the past – that Waddy had pulled a handgun out of his hoodie pocket and flashed the muzzle at two Denver police officers after they confronted him.
Bodycam 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.
“At this time, one officer on Larimer Street fired four rounds at Mr. Waddy from a duty handgun, and another officer fired two rounds at Mr. Waddy from a duty handgun,” Clark said.
A third officer who followed Waddy around one of the parked vehicles and who allegedly also saw him with the handgun fired one round when he saw the muzzle of the handgun pointing in the direction of officers on Larimer Street, Clark claimed.
In a previous news conference, Clark said the officers attested they had feared for their lives or the lives of their fellow officers, so they fired their weapons.
The officer on the sidewalk, who was several feet away to the right of Waddy, said he was aware of the crowd outside the Beer Hall and “explained he worked to obtain a clear sight picture of Mr. Waddy before firing one round. The officer stopped firing their weapons when they believe Mr. Waddy was no longer a threat,” Clark said in a critical incident briefing.
Investigators have not found any evidence that Waddy ever fired the weapon they say he pulled and the officers who fired their guns did not alert the crowd they were going to shoot, nor did they tell them to clear the area beforehand as they did not have time to do so, the commander said.
Six bystanders – three men and three women – were injured when the three Denver police officers opened fire that morning. While Clark has previously said he’s not sure if the department will be able to figure out if the victims were shot or hit with ricochets or other debris, he admitted in the critical incident briefing released Tuesday that the injuries they sustained were “directly or indirectly caused by the rounds fired by one or more officers.”
After the shooting, Clark said police recovered a Black Rock Island semi-automatic 10-millimeter handgun belonging to Waddy, which was loaded with one round in the chamber and seven rounds in the magazine. The hammer on the firearm was also cocked back, Clark said.
Following the release of the bodycam video, DPD released the names of the officers involved — Meagan Lieberson, Brandon Ramos and Kenneth Rowland. All three remain on modified duty, according to the department.
Denver District Attorney Beth McCann announced Tuesday that she is opening a grand jury investigation into the police shooting as this case rises to a level where an investigation of the Denver Police Department's Internal Affairs Bureau may not be enough.
“The public’s interest in this particular shooting incident is understandably high,” McCann said in a statement. “For the community to trust in the outcome from this incident, it is important that independent members of the community review the facts, evidence and law regarding whether these officers should be criminally charged. Until the grand jury’s work is complete, my office will have no further comment on this matter.”
In closing remarks, Clark said McCann will determine whether any criminal charges will be filed against any of the officers following the grand jury investigation. Both the DPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau and Conduct Review Bureau will also complete an administrative review of the shooting, and the details of the investigation will then be presented to the Use of Force Review Board, which is made up of community members and police command officers. The shooting will also be “thoroughly reviewed” by the DPD’s Tactics Review Board, Clark noted.
All these boards will then determine whether the actions of the involved police officers complied with the “high standard expected of every Denver police officer related to policies, training, and tactics,” Clark said.
This article was written by Óscar Contreras for KMGH.