Denver police shooting of armed man and 6 bystanders was unnecessary and unreasonable, defense attorney says

Denver police officers’ decision to shoot at an armed man in a busy downtown nightlife district — and injure six bystanders in the process — was unreasonable and unnecessary, the man’s attorney said Tuesday.

Police shot Jordan Waddy, 21, in the back, leg, butt and chest, public defender Becca Butler-Dines said at a court hearing Tuesday. Butler-Dines said she had not yet seen all the video footage of the incident, but the video she had reviewed so far caused serious concerns about how police handled the incident.

“There is no evidence Mr. Waddy attempted to use a gun,” Butler-Dines said.

Her statements are the first time someone has spoken on behalf of Waddy, whom police said pulled out a gun as they approached him in the early morning hours of July 17. The three officers injured six bystanders when they opened fire on Waddy as bars let out along Larimer Street.

Waddy, who is on parole for aggravated assault convictions, remained in the hospital Tuesday for treatment and appeared by telephone at his second court date for charges of possession of a weapon by a previous offender and misdemeanor assault.

After the shooting, Waddy waited 20 minutes before he was placed in a stretcher, Butler-Dines said. He was rushed into emergency surgery when he arrived at Denver Health Medical Center and doctors removed his spleen so they could address the internal bleeding. Waddy now has an 8-inch incision on his abdomen and will require physical therapy to regain the ability to walk normally.

Magistrate Judge Arnie Beckman lowered Waddy’s bond from $75,000 to $10,000. The higher bond was set when Waddy was held on suspicion of felony menacing — a more serious charge — but prosecutors did not file that charge.

Denver police officials have denied requests to release body camera and surveillance footage of the shooting, citing Waddy’s ongoing criminal case and the district attorney’s investigation into officers’ decision to fire. Denver police officials held a news conference last week about the incident, but only released still images from the video that they selected.

Police accountability legislation that lawmakers passed in 2020 mandates that departments release body camera footage within 21 days in most incidents. The law states that in incidents where there is a criminal case, like Waddy’s, the defendant’s attorney has 21 days to file an objection against releasing the footage. If an objection is filed, the judge on the case is required to hold a hearing.

Butler-Dines said the office of the public defender will most likely not oppose releasing videos of the incident but is waiting to file their opinion on the matter until they can review all of the material. The office received a link to the footage on Friday and it took eight hours Monday to download the videos.

Butler-Dines sought a gag order against attorneys and police on the case, specifically asking Beckman to bar police from speaking about the incident.

“They have consistently tried to spin this into a justified shooting of a young Black man,” she said, noting that “in the same breath” police have said the investigation is ongoing.

Police initially alleged Waddy pointed a gun at officers, but, at a briefing days later, acknowledged Waddy did not appear to be holding the gun by its “pistol grip” and instead may have been pulling it out by the slide on top of the weapon.

Beck denied the request for the gag order.

Waddy’s next court date is Aug. 24, when he will appear for a preliminary hearing.

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