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.

Alonzo Ashley with his girlfriend Elina (credit: CBS)

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.

Comments (7)
  1. Neta says:

    It is so sad that there are so many ignorant uncaring people in the world. Everytime, someone Black does something drug related or not we are looked at as if we are animals and should be punished. Whites are allowed to make mistakes and are given a slap on the wrist, i.e., Charlie Sheen, Paris Hilton, and sent to Rehab to get themselves together. Black people are sent to Jail first and often time for 10, 20 30 years for the same crime. Justice where is it. My Son was 29 when he died while is an accident, no drugs involved less than a year after he died my employer told me to GET OVER IT. He was White of course. It will be 5 years Christmas Day. He was my only child I will never get over it. You all have no compassion unless it happens to one of your children. It is so sad that thers are so many racist bigots in this world

    1. JC says:

      Come on Neta. “Another black man killed by pigs” Do you really think they did anything wrong here? He was assaulting another man, the cops told him to stop and he didn’t. He was super strong (I’m sorry, but odds are from drugs) and refused to obey the police officers. They used the lowest amount of non lethal force they had and used a taser that only shocks the contacted skin, not even the entire body. He dies hours later from either heat stroke or a drug overdose, two things that would have happened taser or no taser and the black community is enraged! Im Asian, not even white but I am tired of the race card being played by the black community every time a black person antagonizes a cop and faces consequences. It is outrageous and comparing celebrities to this guy is silly because look at athletes. The denver bronco that raped a girl resulting in pregnancy is black and he was at practice all week pending trail. AND OH YEAH, the first officer to respond to the disturbance WAS BLACK! Stop making excuses, its weakness.

  2. Missingyou says:

    The family isnt supporting this man As well none of his family was there. But if you would like to help an support Alonzo an his family they do have a fund set up at Well Fargo In Loving Memory Of Alonzo Ashley the acct # 2248254308 Thank You!

  3. TIRED says:

    CBS Denver needs to be ashamed to have allowed such naive idiots the capacity to comment on such a tragic event. And YOU say racism does not exist? Really? Just read these posts.

    Oh – and a large percentage of non-blacks are on welfare and are poverty stricken in case you didn’t know.

    Regardless of what happened at the zoo, it did not cause for a person to die. It does not matter what color he was or what he was on.

    1. josh says:

      Funny, white people find not the comments racist, but the reporting. He wasn’t attacked for being black. He was attacked for being an idiot and a drug addict. These people are protesting another black man killed by “pigs” when they used the lowest amount of non lethal force at their disposal with a local taser. It had nothing to do with him being black, but they are making it about him being black. Most of us are just tired of hearing the race card played every time a black person makes a stupid decision and the community pitches a fit about the consequences.

  4. hipmom says:

    Right! The autopsy report isn’t even back yet… could be he actually died of a drug overdose or some “legitimate cause” such as some substance combined with too much sun. It’s not like the police walked into the zoo and shot him with a gun~ they tazed him only after his anger, irratic behavior, & strength was too much for grown police men to handle any other way. And the zoo guard was an unarmed employee who shouldn’t have anything to do with this controversy. And to incinuate that the zoo should close is silly… when there’s a shooting or crime in downtown Denver nobody expects businesses to shut down.. this is a public place that doesn’t even close on holidays and depends on the admission fees and donations to feed the animals. The zoo doesn’t need or deserve bad press from this. It is a tragedy that a young man died but the fault is being laid on the wrong people. Leave the zoo out of it and take it up with the victim’s autopsy results and DPD.

  5. David says:

    Good god. He wasnt killed because he was black. He died because he was drugged up thinking he was a lion. Black people need to stop thinking that the world revolves around the color of their skin. I do agree that police need to stop using tazers…45’s are a lot more effective.

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