Denver Police union claims some protesters cheered when officers were injured

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DENVER -- The Denver Police Protective Association said Thursday some East High School students reacted in disrespectful ways after four bicycle officers were hit in an accident at the end of a large protest march Wednesday staged by students.

One of the four officers spent six hours in surgery Wednesday afternoon. John Adsit underwent more surgery Thursday for his injuries and he remained in critical but stable condition Thursday night.

The students said they were marching mainly in support of people protesting the shooting death of Michael Brown and the fact the police officer who killed him was not indicted.

After a second day of massive student walkouts from high schools, Denver Public Schools officials said they consider the protests "learning experiences," and they do not plan to try to stop them.

"The Denver Police Protective Association has learned that immediately after the horrible accident yesterday injuring four Denver Police Officers, several parties in the protesting group cheered and chanted "hit him again." These actions are not only reprehensible but quite possibly the most disturbing thing this Association has ever heard," a statement released by the police officers' union Thursday night said.

"This group of high school students not only broke DPS rules by leaving school without authorization, but broke laws of the City and County of Denver and State of Colorado regarding traffic regulations and the right to assemble with a permit. The DPPA recognizes citizens’ rights to assemble lawfully. This, however, was not a lawful assembly, which ultimately cost four Denver Police Officers a trip to the hospital. One of which is in critical condition," the statement continued.

Police sources told FOX31 Denver that students were overheard cheering and chanting disrespectful terms after the officers were hit. The same sources say they saw teachers standing by while this happened, and they did not intervene.

Denver Public Schools released a statement Thursday night. "We have no knowledge of the alleged comments. We would deplore any such comments and will look into the allegation, and would welcome any evidence that would assist us in an investigation. All afternoon yesterday and all day today, students at East expressed their deep concern for Officer Adsit and his family and their appreciation for the police assistance in ensuring student safety during the march."

East High School student Donalya Bridges said Thursday night that there were some things said, but they weren't said by students. She says the disrespectful words came from older men who had joined the protest. She said East High School students were shaken by the accident that hurt the officers and they did not say anything bad after it happened.

Denver Police had its own response to the union's allegations.

"The Denver Police Department cannot independently confirm claims that students cheered after the officers were struck protecting protesters yesterday. However, if in fact there were inappropriate actions taken by a few students Chief [Robert] White does not believe this reflects the opinions of the vast majority of protesters from East high school yesterday. Chief White met with student organizers from East High School today and even facilitated a meeting between the organizers and officer Adsit's family. Chief White hopes that we are able to move forward as a community and nation to continue building a relationship between police and the communities they serve."

Denver Police union president Nick Rogers told FOX31 Denver some officers personally heard the statements from students. When asked if any officers would speak about it on the record, he said "no, not in this environment."

Some students who participated in walkouts Thursday said individual teachers tried to discourage them from leaving school. "I was in the hallway and I started talking and the security guards took me off right away and they started protesting without me," Jose Romero said.

"Our purpose here is to make sure there's learning going on, that these are important lessons for our students," DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg said.

Denver police officers once again ran traffic and crowd control as several hundred students marched along miles of busy streets from places like Lincoln High School to the Capitol.

Most of the students then boarded buses for rides back to school. But dozens were seen splitting off on their own without any police or school protection.

Student organizers say they feel so passionate about these social issues that teachers could not stop them even if they tried. "I know people that were passionate enough that said if the teacher tries to lock the door I'm going to continue to walk out," student Donalya Bridges said.

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