Five bystanders shot when Denver police open fire on man holding gun in crowded street

The suspect that police shot, Jordan Waddy, 21, was arrested on suspicion of felony menacing

Johanna Chisholm
Monday 18 July 2022 18:23 BST
Six people were injured when three Denver police officers fired shots at a man pointing a handgun at them early Sunday morning, Denver Police Department said
Six people were injured when three Denver police officers fired shots at a man pointing a handgun at them early Sunday morning, Denver Police Department said (Colorado’s Very Own Channel 2/video screengrab)

Police officers shot and injured five bystanders when they opened fire into a bustling crowd early after a man pointed a gun in their direction, the Denver Police Department said.

Early on Sunday morning, a group of police officers were patrolling a popular nightlife area in downtown Denver as bars began to close. One man in the crowd, 21-year-old Jordan Waddy, reportedly pointed a gun in the direction of police, leading the officers to draw their own weapons and open fire while bar-goers continued pouring onto the streets.

Mr Waddy, who was also shot by the officers alongside the five bystanders, did not fire his gun, according to a news release from the DPD.

The 21-year-old, who is expected to make a full recovery from his injuries, was arrested on suspicion of felony menacing and possession of a weapon by a previous offender.

The five other people injured in the shooting, two men and three women, were either hit by a bullet from the officers’ guns or wounded by a piece of shrapnel from the bullets. All five are also expected to make a full recovery.

By Sunday night, all but one of the bystanders and Mr Waddy had been released from hospital, according to DPD spokesperson Doug Schepman, the Denver Post reported.

According to the probable cause statement released by the Denver force following Mr Waddy’s arrest, the incident began after one of the officers had witnessed the 21-year-old lift up his waistband of his pants while he appeared to be in an altercation with two other men.

After seeing Mr Waddy “[lift] up his hoody as though he was armed with a handgun,” according to the document, several officers then moved in on the suspected gunman and he began to walk away.

One of the officers on the scene then reported that he saw the young man reach towards his waistband, “in a motion consistent with pulling out a firearm”. A separate officer said in the probable cause document that he began to “fear for his life” because Mr Waddy “was now armed with a firearm and pointed the firearm in their direction”.

Excluded from the probable cause statement, according to the Denver Post, is the description of the actual shots being fired from the officers’ guns. The report indicates that one officer “heard four to six gunshots and observed Waddy fall to the ground”.

Officers said that after the shots were fired, they tended to Mr Waddy to provide first aid, alongside “several other victims who were injured during the shooting”.

Police uncovered a 10 mm handgun at the scene with one round in the chamber and seven in the magazine, according to the probable cause statement.

A bystander at the scene told the Colorado-based news outlet that they heard five shots go off, and people in the area quickly scattered.

Six people were injured when three Denver police officers fired shots at a man pointing a handgun at them early Sunday morning, Denver Police Department said
Six people were injured when three Denver police officers fired shots at a man pointing a handgun at them early Sunday morning, Denver Police Department said (Colorado’s Very Own Channel 2/video screengrab)

“I’m pretty sure we would’ve been shot had we been standing in the wrong spot,” Guillermo Cortes said in an interview with the Denver Post, noting that he believes he only heard gunfire coming from the police officers’ firearms.

When reached for comment on the weekend shooting, the Denver Police Department’s media relations team directed The Independent to the news conference held shortly after the incident and the press release issued on Sunday morning.

In the press release, the DPD states that an investigation into the shooting will be carried out and will include “interviews and forensic work”.

“The Denver Police Department understands the community’s desire for additional information and the Department is committed to both maintaining the integrity of this investigation and sharing additional details as soon [as] information has been confirmed through the investigation,” the press release says.

The three officers involved in the shooting are currently on administrative leave, which is standard practice, the department notes, and added that the investigation will be carried out with representatives from the Colorado Bureau of Investigations, Colorado State Patrol, Denver District Attorney’s Office, Denver Police Department, and includes oversight from the Office of the Independent Monitor.

After the investigation is concluded, the findings will be presented to the Denver District Attorney’s Office.

Over the course of the last week, Sunday’s shooting with the Denver Police Department marks the third occassion where an officer has been involved in a shooting. On Friday, an officer shot and killed a man who was reportedly stabbing his partner, while on Wednesday, officers shot and killed a man who they claim was firing shots at pursuing officers.

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