DENVER (CBS4)- Protesters are demanding changes from the Denver Zoo and police following the death of a man at the zoo on Monday. They also want an apology.
Alonzo Ashley, 29, died after getting into a fight with zoo security and Denver police officers. Zoo officials said Ashley attacked a security guard who checked on him after he dunked his head in a water fountain and called himself a lion.
When police arrived, they said Ashley was violent and a taser was used to subdue him.
While demonstrators admit they don’t know how Ashley died, they say it was enough that he died at the hands of police and zoo security. They also claim he was treated the way he was because he was a black man.
A couple of dozen people gathered outside the Denver Zoo on Friday, with a list of demands. Those include: every zoo security officer and police officer involved should be placed on leave; the zoo should cease all operations during the investigation; a town hall meeting with police and zoo officials; viewing the criteria used to hire zoo security; an apology from police and the Denver Zoo.
“Somebody was killed in this zoo and the very next day the zoo went back to business as usual. That can’t be. They’ve got to care more about a black human life than what they’re exhibiting, what they’re showing. They have to. And that’s why we say close it down,” said activist Alvertis Simmons.
The Denver Ministerial Alliance also demanded today that police stop using tasers until they know they are safe.
Police said the type of taser they used on Ashley is not the type that shocks the whole body, but rather like a stun gun that causes pain only to the direct area where it is placed on the body. Demonstrators say they don’t believe it.
Both the Denver Zoo and police say they’re sorry that anybody died at the zoo. They’re also sorry that five officers and zoo security guards were so violently attacked by Ashley that they had to be hospitalized for their injuries.
The protesters are calling for a complete boycott of the Denver Zoo by the black community.
Three of the first police officers to respond and the zoo security guard are all black men.
An autopsy is underway to determine exactly how Ashley died. Those results could take up to six weeks.