Last Wednesday, a Denver cop fell off his motorcycle at a protest against police violence and confrontation ensued. Officers tackled and arrested demonstrators and shot pepper spray into the crowd, as The Colorado Independent reported last week. Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson said a protestor started the clashing when he knocked over the officer and the motorcycle.
What exactly happened? That’s the question both police and protestors will be asking over the coming months as demonstrators consider taking legal action against the police department for attacking the crowd and as the District Attorney decides whether to build a case against this demonstrator and the ten others who were arrested.
Lawyers will review footage from the protest, and much of the legal squabble will likely depend on how people interpret video of the event.
Some documentation has already surfaced and the debate has begun.
CBS Denver released footage and reported: “Video appears to show an anti-police protestor pushing an officer off his motorcycle.” Footage the claim is based upon comes around 00:35.
Colorado Independent reader Gabe G. contests this account in an email to The Indy: “CBS is spreading this lie that they have a video showing a cop getting pushed off his bike. What they have is a super grainy video that shows the officer falling, where you can’t really tell whats [sic] happening.”
Gabe points to this street-level footage posted to Youtube by Jesse Benn, where the camera was much closer to the action and the footage is much clearer.
Benn’s video shows an officer riding his motorcycle very close to the crowd and parallel to a person on a bicycle. The officer and the protestor are both struggling to stay balanced. Tensions look high. The protestor’s elbow touches the cop. The officer topples over, catches himself before falling to the ground, turns around, points at and then charges the demonstrator. Other officers charge the crowd. One grabs the camera and appears to shut it off.
“You can see pretty clearly that the cop just falls off his motorcycle… The assault charge that man is facing is a total lie,” Gabe wrote.
Did the protestor intend to touch the cop with his elbow and did doing so, if he indeed made contact, cause the cop to fall?
As The Colorado Independent reported Friday, Denver pays out twice the amount in excessive force settlements as Baltimore.