DENVER (CBS4)– Police videotape obtained by CBS4 shows disguised men defacing the Denver Police fallen officers memorial last Saturday as at least one officer expressed fear the protesters would try to light the memorial on fire.
The tape was shot from an upper floor at Denver Police Headquarters. It shows dozens of protesters ambling through the police courtyard during a protest, before one man kneels down and pulls a container of red paint out of a backpack and begins dumping the paint over the top of the memorial to fallen officers. The man is wearing a bandana to disguise his identity.
One officer can be heard on the tape saying, “Hey Pat, they’re pouring red paint on the memorial here, so make sure it’s not gas or anything.”
This is the first time there has been any public release of actual videotape of the vandalism to the monument.
The defacing of the police memorial, which bears the name of dozens of fallen officers, prompted outrage among rank and file Denver officers who were ordered not to intervene and arrest protesters for fear of aggravating the situation.
In a letter to officers, Chief White wrote the protesters actions were “abhorrent” but he explained the decision to not intervene by saying , “We have learned that providing route security at a distance and intentionally avoiding direct confrontation prevents injury to officers, limits liability, and minimizes the criminal actions of many protesters.”
“I support Chief White and I support his command staff’s decision to stand down and not put police officers in harm’s way,” said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock earlier this week.
But current and retired officers are furious that protesters were allowed to deface the monument with dozens of officers positioned only a matter of feet away, inside the first floor of the police headquarters building.
“This outrage is not so much that our memorial was defaced (albeit that is heinous enough), but rather the acknowledged order from the Chief, supported by the Mayor, to allow the act to continue unabated by officers standing nearby,” said retired officer Douglas White. “It is a slap in the face to anyone who has ever served, and the citizens of Denver should be equally outraged. Would the chief have expected the officers to stand by while the demonstrators began chipping away at it with sledge hammers? Or suppose they had affixed explosives to it?”
The videotape obtained by CBS4 shows the camera following the man who dumped paint on the memorial.
“The guy is wearing a gray shirt, black jeans, bandana mask and a backpack… red backpack,” says one officer.
A second man can be seen on the tape plastering a sign on the memorial and he appears to intentionally knock over a wreath at the foot of the memorial.
Moments later, another protester is seen on the tape lowering the American flag that flies in the DPD courtyard. The crowd can be heard cheering as the flag comes down.
“Anybody get video of that?” asks one officer.
“I got it,” replies another. “They had one but they are still getting ours.”
After the protest, police arrested two men, Matthew Goldberg and Robert Guerrero in connection with the vandalism of the police memorial.