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Bystanders shot dead by Denver police shocked by body camera footage, disappointed with police response


Three innocent bystanders shot by Denver police while standing outside a LoDo bar last month want the Denver Police Department to publicly apologize for their injuries and announce a plan to ensure a similar incident does not happen again.

Police shot all three victims – Yekalo Weldehiwet, Bailey Alexander and Willis Small IV – on July 17 as they shot a man they arrested outside Larimer Beer Hall because they believed he was armed. Officers shot the man, Jordan Waddy, as he threw a gun to the ground. Police injured six bystanders who were standing nearby.

Weldehiwet, Alexander and Small spoke out on Wednesday after Denver police released body camera footage of the shooting, which victims said shocked and disappointed them. The videos made it clearer that it was luck that no one was killed, Small said.

Photos by Jintak Han, The Denver Post

Yekalo Weldehiwet, 26, left, and Bailey Alexander, 24, pictured Wednesday, July 20, 2022, are two of six bystanders shot dead by Denver police on Sunday, July 17, 2022. Three officers were shooting at an armed suspect in Lower Downtown early Sunday morning.

“Now, when we get the truth, at least have the decency to come forward and say, ‘Yeah, we screwed up. We need more training, we take full responsibility. We need to reconsider our whole program, take responsibility for it and learn from it,” Weldehiwet said.

Denver police officials omitted key facts from previous descriptions of the shooting, the victims said. Prior to the release of the video, department heads never said Waddy was throwing his gun away when officers shot him and that he raised his hand when officers first contacted him.

“The omissions are as serious as outright lies, like that he pointed the barrel of the gun at the police,” said Siddhartha Rathod, one of the lawyers representing the three victims.

Police said at a July 20 news conference that Waddy was “holding (the gun) so that the barrel of the gun was pointed in the direction of the officers on Larimer Street,” although he later admitted during questioning of reporters that Waddy was not holding the gun by the top, not the grip, and that it was unclear whether he could have fired the gun while holding it from that position. way.

Body camera video shows Waddy pulling the gun out of his clothes and quickly moving it to his chest before throwing it to the side. He never pointed his muzzle directly at the officers.

Weldehiwet, Alexander and Small did not have a chance to view the videos before the Denver Department of Public Safety released them. Weldehiwet decided not to watch the videos because he didn’t want to relive the traumatic evening.

“If body cameras didn’t exist, we might have no idea who shot us by now,” Small said.

All three victims said they were cautiously optimistic about Denver District Attorney Beth McCann’s decision to convene a grand jury, which will decide whether the three officers should face criminal charges.

The three officers – Meagan Lieberson, Brandon Ramos and Kenneth Rowland – are working off patrol as the investigation continues.

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