By Alan Gionet

DENVER (CBS4) – Denver police will look at what happened in a confrontation between officers and a homeless advocate at 22nd Street and Stout Street on Tuesday. It follows the arrest of 29-year-old Timothy Montana, who is being held in the Denver jail on suspicion of 2nd degree assault on a peace officer.

“The force that they’re using is not acceptable. Especially for people that are not armed and not showing any kind of threat to them,” said Rodney Montana, brother of Timothy. Video obtained by CBS4 shows an officer with his knee on the neck of Timothy Montana during his arrest.

Timothy Montana arrest

(credit: Darren O’Conner)

“Have we learned nothing from George Floyd and his murder?” asked Denver School Board member Tay Anderson who was there and recorded video of his own.

“It was really shocking,” said Rodney Montana from his home in Virginia. “I began crying and I’m not really an emotional person. When it’s hitting home like this, it’s really emotional. When I saw him being pulled from the group of people that he was with and him being taken to the ground and having somebody put his knee on his neck was really, really terrifying.”

Anderson said Timothy Montana was attempting to cross a police line to retrieve the belongings of an amputee who had been living in the encampment. He described what he saw before the arrest: “An individual stepped over the line to support that unhoused neighbor and then the police officers said ‘Get back’ and they started pushing the protestors back.” That resulted in a shoving match. Video shows police pulling Montana away and then an officer placing his knee on Montana’s neck.

“It had to be over 10 seconds,” said Anderson.

“I didn’t notice until I heard somebody else say it and then about 10 seconds after it I noticed that it was still there and I said, ‘Hey his knee is on his neck’ and the officers refused to acknowledge.”

Video showing the unidentified officer with his knee on Montana’s neck is limited. The camera turns away and police who were forming a line obscure the view. There’s no clear indication yet how long the officer kept Montana beneath a knee.

“This is unacceptable,” replied State Rep. Leslie Herod, who helped to craft Colorado’s Senate Bill 217, which prohibits chokeholds. She called the officer’s actions a “clear violation” of the law that went into effect in June.

“The officer should be removed from his post,” she replied.

Denver police say they are aware of the incident and will conduct an investigation. The office of the Denver Department of Public Safety says it will likely include an examination of police body camera video, which may have other angles on what happened.

The office of Mayor Michael Hancock declined comment about the incident. Spokesperson Theresa Marchetta messaged, “The mayor would never comment on some video posted on social media, especially when there hasn’t been any kind of investigation conducted.”

Rodney Montana said his brother, who grew up in Brighton and lives in Arvada, had never been in trouble with the law.

“This is the first time our family has experienced anything with the law,” he said. “He is a very big hearted person. He always does things for people. He cares for people genuinely. That’s what he’s there for.”

Alan Gionet