Training And Expertise: Denver Cops Hit Five Bystanders While Shooting At ‘Felony Menacing’ Suspect

from the so-anyway,-I-started-blasting dept

Sometimes you’ve got to shoot a few civilians to make the public safe. (h/t Maggie McNeill)

More often than not, police do not stop a mass shooting. In Denver over the weekend, they actually started one. According to the Denver Post, police in the Lower Downtown area opened fire to stop a man who allegedly pulled a gun. They managed to shoot five bystanders in the process.

Mic’s properly snarky report (penned by AJ Dellinger) makes the points regular journalists won’t make, starting with normal media’s over-reliance on firsthand accounts by the most unreliable narrators.

According to the police account of the incident — which is always suspect and often inaccurate — a young man involved in some sort of altercation outside a bar “lifted up his hoody as though he was armed with a handgun.” Officers approached him, and he started to walk away while reaching for his waist “in a motion consistent with pulling out a firearm.” One could probably describe this as a motion consistent with tucking in your shirt, too, but cops assumed he was pulling out a gun.

The Denver PD did at least manage to push out a few tweets about this “incident,” but they were mostly fact-free and completely self-serving. After injuring five bystanders, the PD sent out this description of the shooting.

ALERT: #DPD on scene of an officer involved shooting in the 2000 block of Larimer St. No officers injured. Updates will be posted as they are available. #Denver

UPDATE: PIO on scene, multiple victims located all transported to a local hospital. Investigation ongoing.

Accurate: “officer-involved shooting.” More accurate: officers shot a bunch of people. (Luckily, this also included the suspect.) Accurate: “multiple victims.” More accurate: all were victims of police gunfire.

At least the Denver Post took the time to interview some civilians, otherwise the only narrative would be the PD’s version — one in which multiple people were injured by a mysterious force, one presumably related to the lawbreaker cops decided to shoot at while pursuing them down a crowded street.

And it does point out where the cops began lying about what happened. It started with the probable cause report that attempts to justify the actions of officers (still unnamed) who opened fire. They claim the suspect reached into his waistband “in a motion consistent with pulling out a firearm.” One officer said they saw a gun. Another officer (or maybe the same one) said he “feared for life” and that the suspect pointed a gun at officers.

That’s the lead-up. Then the shooting started, something that went completely undocumented in this report.

But the probable cause statement doesn’t describe the officers firing their weapons. It reports that one officer “heard four to six gunshots and observed Waddy fall to the ground,” then notes that “after the shots were fired,” the officers began to render first aid to Waddy “and several other victims who were injured during the shooting” — the only reference to bystanders being caught in the line of police fire.

There were at least six shots. One hit Waddy and five others hit bystanders. Given the number of bullets cops generally expend before hitting their target, this number is likely to rise as more details come in and/or are forced out of the PD’s hands. A gun was reportedly found at the scene, but no details were released linking it to Waddy or indicating it had been fired.

People without uniforms at the scene gave conflicting reports (not as in “inconsistent,” but as in “contradicting official police reports”).

Cortes said he saw two men get into a fight and at least two Denver police officers approached and followed one of the men. He said he saw the officers pull out their guns and shoot the man, who he watched fall to the ground.

He said he did not see the man holding a weapon or hear the police give any warnings.


Kyla Soderman and her friends were walking out of Larimer Beer Hall when the shooting occurred. She said she saw two police officers draw their weapons and shoot a man, firing at least three rounds. She did not see anybody else with a gun or hear anybody besides the officers fire a weapon.

This is going to get worse. It’s not going to get better. There’s a conspicuous lack of concern on display here, both by the officers who decided to open fire on a crowded street as bars closed and by police officials who have attempted to display this as both a justified shooting and distance the PD from the collateral damage this careless act caused.

Cops are terrible shots. There’s safety in numbers though, and that includes the number of bullets fired. Cops swarm to scenes. And then they start blasting. This isn’t an anomaly. This is just how cop business is carried out in the US.

Late last year, we discussed an investigation of several Cleveland police officers after a high-speed pursuit involving over 60 squad cars and 100 officers culminated in officers unloading 137 bullets in the direction of the stopped vehicle — 47 of which found homes in the two suspects, who were both killed. One officer — Michael Brelo — fired 49 rounds in a little over 20 seconds.

That shooting occurred in a school parking lot. The school was empty but several bullets were found lodged in nearby homes.

Here’s another case from 2012:

Michael Allen Vincent, a man who allegedly had several traffic incidents with police in the past, had led policeman Patrick Tuter on a high speed chase before pulling over into a cul de sac. That’s when Tuter ordered Vincent out of the car, before discharging his weapon 41 times…

That’s one officer, reloading several times.

Another case, this one from 2013. Not as many bullets, but the NYPD charged the man they attempted to shoot with assault because cops managed to shoot two innocent bystanders.

That more bystanders haven’t been hospitalized or killed is simply a matter of luck, rather than the result of police officer restraint.

On Sunday, the Akron Police Department released 13 police body camera videos, which show Walker’s encounter with police officers following a traffic stop, including the moment he was fatally shot by eight police officers firing dozens of bullets at him, resulting in over 60 wounds, officials said.

This man was shot 16 times while he lay in bed. Somehow he survived. This man didn’t, shot 59 times in a little under three minutes by US Marshals.

An excess of bullets. A dearth of restraint. Almost nonexistent concern for the safety of anyone other than themselves. That’s how these things happen. And that’s why cops will always lead off with lying when their “fear for my safety” priorities are inadvertently put on display.

Filed Under: , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Training And Expertise: Denver Cops Hit Five Bystanders While Shooting At ‘Felony Menacing’ Suspect”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:


Pretty sure we can all guess, correctly, which side of the IQ median (100) these people fall on, eh?

Unfortunately being intelligent does not actually mean being ethical. Furthermore the US has shown itself to be perfectly happy not policing it’s law enforcement with any seriousness. So an intelligent person who had… unsavory tastes could well decided they wanted in on the action.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Rekrul says:


Some officers are getting tired of being outdone by shooters with AR-15’s and are doing something about it…

So, shoot first and hope nobody asks any questions?

Isn’t it strange how EVERY suspect “reached for their waistband”, even when it turns out that they weren’t armed? I mean, doesn’t it seem a little strange that when someone is confronted by several trigger-happy cops, and they don’t have a gun on them, they all “reach for their waistband”, even knowing that this will get them shot to death?

It’s almost like that’s become a standard excuse for shooting people…

Anonymous Coward says:

Almost nonexistent concern for the safety of anyone other than themselves.

I am not so sure about that, as the cops suffer from target fixation to the extent that they can form a circle around a suspect, and open fire. The Cleveland incident involved cops shooting in the direction of other cops. At least one mass use of guns by cops resulted in an injured suspect, along with one injured and one dead cop.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
GB Clark says:

That recent felony murder charge

Back in June a lookout was convicted of Felony Murder due to a cop killing another cop.

The actual robber and another cop were wounded as well.
The actual robber had a FAKE gun so could not have fired any of the shots.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Facts and fibs

Why is it that cops are such bad shots? That’s one thing I never understood. Hunters take out squirrels and rabbits with hand guns.
Others tackle big game with a bow and some arrows!
Boomerang hunters can take down fast moving prey like dear and elk!

Yet cops some how fire 50 bullets and still miss 49 times!??

We hear about all the army weapons. It’s time for some army training. An O2 can pull a sidearm, fire three shots, kill the terrorist and not a scratch on the hostage. Hand, head, chest. Dead.

Cops fire a dozen clips and still miss the target completely sometimes!

I don’t know which is better. Them always missing so innocent ‘suspects’ aren’t killed.
Or better training so they don’t hit children in the other direction from the suspect.

Pixelation says:


“Why is it that cops are such bad shots? That’s one thing I never understood. Hunters take out squirrels and rabbits with hand guns.”

Well, to be fair, adrenaline. Squirrels don’t shoot back. I’m guessing you have never been in a life or death situation. It’s easy to hit a target when you can relax, take a deep breath and gently squeeze the trigger. When the deer was firing at you, you would shit your pants and probably shoot your buddy.

BernardoVerda (profile) says:

:rolling my eyes emoji:
You seem to have already forgotten, so let me remind you: in these “officer involved” shootings that we’re currently discussing, the victims generally turn out to be no better armed than the deer you mention — let alone actually firing at anybody with their imagined firearms.

That’s precisely why this is such a big issue.

Anonymous Coward says:


More like they need a lot of tactical training so that they do not become target fixated, and unaware of what they will hit if they miss the target. That training should include how to act as part of a team, rather than a pack of individuals giving conflicting orders and shouting over each other.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

They’d need it, sure, but what makes you think they want it? Cops have long since defended plenty of shit they’re allowed to get away with – shooting at anything that moves even if unarmed and not dangerous; not needing to know the laws they claim to enforce; not needing to be up to date with legal activities from marijuana possession to holding a mobile phone near a crime scene.

That’s why cops complain every time more training is requested. It makes their jobs more complex than they’d like, and it strips them of something they hold near and dear to their hearts: qualified immunity from all consequences.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...