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By Austen Erblat
/ CBS Colorado
A Denver police officer who shot a man on a crowded street last summer has been indicted and charged. Seven people were injured in the shooting, including the suspect.
The Denver District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday it is charging Officer Brandon Ramos with two counts of second-degree assault – reckless, a felony; three counts of third-degree assault – knowing/reckless, a misdemeanor; three counts of third-degree assault – negligence with a deadly weapon, a misdemeanor; one count of prohibited use of a weapon, a misdemeanor; and five counts of reckless endangerment, also a misdemeanor.
Ramos was granted a PR bond.
The District Attorney’s Office announced in August a grand jury would investigate the shooting.
“I want to thank the members of the grand jury who have spent many days over the last several months listening to testimony and examining exhibits,” said Denver DA Beth McCann. “This is a very serious matter and I appreciate the time and attention each of them devoted to this important decision. The case will now move forward in the courts.”
Ramos and two other officers are seen on multiple bodycam and HALO camera videos shooting at Jordan Waddy after Waddy pulls a handgun from his waistband. From Ramos’ position, a crowd of people is behind Waddy, according to the indictment.
The shooting took place on July 17 at 20th Street and Larimer Street.
At least one of the five other injured people was shot and witnesses tended to that woman’s gunshot wound before help could arrive. According to the indictment, five of the injured victims appear to have been shot by Ramos, but their names are redacted in the indictment.
“Yekalo Weldewihet, Bailey Alexander, and Willis Small IV, three victims of the LoDo shooting, are relieved that a Grand Jury indicted Denver Police Department Officer Brandon Ramos for his reckless actions endangering not only our clients but the Denver community,” Denver-based civil rights law firm Rathod | Mohamedbhai LLC said in a statement. “This is just a small step toward the accountability our community deserves and expects from its law enforcement officers.”
The two other officers that fired their guns that night were not charged, as the grand jury found their shootings to be legally justified.
“Police officers make split-second decisions under difficult circumstances on a daily basis, and those decisions are rooted in keeping people safe,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said in a statement Wednesday. “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.”
A criminal case against Waddy is pending. He’s charged with three counts of possession of a firearm as a previous offender, a felony, and one count of third-degree assault, a misdemeanor.
Tyson Worrell, president of the Denver police officers’ union, spoke about the indictment and Ramos’ actions.
“While we respect the grand jury process, we will rigorously defend Officer Ramos,” he said. He went on to say the indictment will have a “chilling effect” on police recruitment, retention and morale.
“To charge this officer with a felony crime, jeopardizing his career [and] liberty, for acting as he was trained, in the public interest with no malice, ill-intent or lack of concern is unfortunate and said,” Worrell said. “We stand behind our officer.”
The Denver Police Department has not yet determined Ramos’ employment status as the investigation and court case progress., Worrell said.
In a news conference, Rathod | Mohamedbhai LLC attorney and partner Siddhartha H. Rathod refuted Worrell’s comments, saying the Denver Police Department should not expect immunity from prosecution when police officers act recklessly.
“This is not a matter about criminal intent, it is a matter of reckless and outrageous conduct,” Rathod said. “You do not shoot into a crowd. It is basic.”
Three of the victims his firm is representing also spoke at the conference.
“This officer fired into a crowd of more than 100 people and shot five of us,” said Bailey Alexander, who was shot through the back with the bullet exiting her arm. “We were all struck with a bullet from Officer Ramos’ gun and it is by the grace of God that all three of us are able to stand here and talk to you today.”
She said her physical injuries are mostly healed.
Yekalo Weldewihet was shot in his arm. His femur was shattered and he required extensive surgery to repair it and remove the bullet, which was lodged in his arm.
“I’m still kind of weak. I’m going through physical therapy and general therapy because I’m still dealing with anxiety and other stuff,” Weldewihet said. He now feels anxious around police officers and large crowds as a result of the shooting: “I wouldn’t wish this upon anybody.”
Willis Small IV was shot in the foot and is now missing a portion of that foot, his attorney said. He’s also mostly healed but says he can feel where the bullet struck every time he takes a step with his left leg. He decided to stay in on New Year’s Eve due to fear surrounding crowds and shootings.
Rathod said he’s still in the research process in preparation for a civil lawsuit.
The indictment closes by saying “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.”
Austen Erblat is a digital media producer. The staff at CBS News Colorado is Covering Colorado First. Meet the news team or contact us.
First published on January 4, 2023 / 2:11 PM
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Denver police officer charged in July LoDo shooting: 'you do not shoot into a crowd. It is basic' – CBS News
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