DENVER (CBS4)– A new report from the City of Denver’s Office of the Independent Monitor examines how police handled the sometime violent demonstrations that erupted earlier this year. It includes recommendations for improving police response along with the criticism of the department.
The 94-page report takes aim at the police use of what’s called “less lethal” weapons. It states munitions were not properly accounted for and some used them without proper training as officers were pulled in after the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.
Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen told reporters, “This was unprecedented, we needed every officer to prevent and reduce the level of violence we were seeing.”
In many cases, body camera video was not turned over to the independent monitor. The chief explained there were problems attaching the cameras to their protective equipment.
The report made 16 policy recommendations for improving police responses to protests after a review of interviews, documents, video and provided by Denver police. The report calls for new standards for use of pepper spray and discontinue the use of rubber ball grenades. It states some people were targeted who were not a threat.
CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger earlier met Jax Feldman, an innocent bystander, who lost an eye while he said he happened to be getting off work near a protest on Colfax and Grant.
“That’s an organ I was born with and planned on having the rest of my life,” he said in June.
Terrance Roberts helped lead many of the protests.
“I think the police used excessive force like was outlined by the independent monitor and they showed why we were protesting in the first place,” said Roberts.
He said they were protesting police brutality. Some 80 officers were injured in the demonstrations. Pazen said they accept almost all of the 16 recommendations made by the Independent Monitor Nick Mitchell.
“The violent protests, we need to make sure our responses are in line with our values as a city,” said Pazen.
Attorney Cliff Beem represents more than 50 protesters who plan to sue the City of Denver.
Reacting to the report, he said Denver police, “Didn’t adhere to their own policies. They pretty much gathered up all the officers they could find and threw them out on the street.”