DENVER — A Denver grand jury has indicted a Denver police officer on two felony charges in a police shooting of an armed suspect that ended with six injured bystanders in lower downtown last year. The officer is also facing an additional five misdemeanor charges.
Denver District Attorney Beth McCann announced the jury’s decision Wednesday. She said the decision came after jurors heard testimony from 17 witnesses and reviewed 140 exhibits.
Three Denver officers were involved in the July 17, 2022, shooting, but only one is being charged.
The officer, Brandon Ramos, is being 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).
Ramos was granted a PR bond, according to McCann. He was suspended without pay due to the felony charges, which is standard protocol, according to the department.
“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,” McCann said in a release. “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.”
The shooting near 20th and Larimer streets in a crowded Lower Downtown Denver occurred around 1:30 a.m., just as bars were letting out.
Denver police officers were attempting to take Jordan Waddy, 21, into custody when police said he brandished a gun, and officers, who were surrounding the suspect, opened fire.
Waddy was wounded and released from the hospital. Six bystanders were injured during the shooting. Some of the wounded bystanders were struck by bullets and others were hit by shrapnel.
Police were following Waddy, who was allegedly concealing a gun in his hoodie, on foot before the shooting because they said he was involved in an altercation in front of the Larimer Beer Hall and then walked away as officers began to follow.
In bodycam footage released by police, 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.
The footage shows officers opening fire on the suspect after he is seen in the video pulling out a gun from his hoodie and throwing it to the ground. Waddy never used the weapon and appeared to raise his hands to surrender at the moment he was shot.
The amount of time that transpired from when the suspect dropped his gun to when gunfire erupted is 1/6 of a second. A third officer was seen in the bodycam footage firing one round after Waddy fell to the ground.
Waddy was charged with three counts of possession of a weapon by a previous offender and one count of third-degree assault in connection with the police shooting. A preliminary hearing in the case was delayed in Denver County Court in November, The Denver Post reported.
Rathod | Mohamedbhai LLC, a law firm representing some of the bystanders injured in the shooting, praised the move to open a grand jury investigation.
At least three bystanders injured in the shooting were still recovering a month after the incident. Willis Small IV, Yekalo Weldehiwet and Bailey Alexander talked to Denver7 in August about that night.
“It’s extremely disappointing considering the amount of lives, especially in my age range, that were right in that crossfire,” said Small, who was hit in the foot.
Weldehiwet was struck in the upper right arm, causing nerve damage to his thumb. Alexander was hit in the right side of her back, and the bullet went into her upper right arm.
The three victims and their attorney, Siddhartha H. Rathod, held a press conference Wednesday after the DA's announcement. Rathod called Ramos' actions reckless and said the department failed to hold its officers accountable.
"It is the failure of Denver to hold its officers accountable that makes it difficult for all police officers," Rathod said. "Officers may not engage in reckless conduct, they may not shoot into a crowd of 100-150 people and expect that there will be no consequences."
In a statement, Mayor Michael Hancock said the jury's decision was surprising:
"Police officers make split second decisions under difficult circumstances on a daily basis, and those decisions are rooted in keeping people safe. 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.”
The Denver Police Protective Association, the union representing Denver officers, shared a similar sentiment as the mayor in regards to filing of criminal charges.
"To charge this officer with a felony crime, jeopardizing his career and liberty for acting as he was trained and in the public interest, with no malice, ill intent or lack of concern, is unfortunate and sad. We stand behind our officer, remain confident when all evidence comes out it will be clear Officer Ramos is not a criminal and should not be treated as one," the union said in statement.
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