City of Boulder working with Naropa student’s lawyers to figure out independent investigation

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BOULDER, Colo. — There are developments in the investigation of an interaction between Boulder police and a Naropa University student. The city is now going back to the drawing board when it comes to the independent investigation it plans to have.

Previously, former Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett was set to do the independent review. Now, the city wants to work with the student’s lawyers to find an alternative.

This all comes as the encounter between that student and the police has sparked outrage by not just the student, but the community.

The video of the incident shows an officer call for backup because he felt like Zyad Atkinson would not put down a “blunt object,” in a place labeled as private property. As it turns out, Atkinson lives in that neighborhood and the object was a trash grabber and a bucket.

“I had guns pointed at me because of the color of my skin,” said Atkinson, who is black.

At a community meeting, a city representative said, “I want to publicly and personally apologize to Zyad Atkinson and his family.”

“I had difficulty watching it because I very much felt like we were going to watch somebody die and it was scary,” said Colorado Public Health Association employee Nami Thompson.

Thompson considers herself a community activist.

She’s not entirely confident in Boulder’s ability to do a fair investigation based on the last one they did pertaining to racial bias.

In 2016, a private company made several suggestions to the city after finding black people only account for one percent of the city population, but have been cited at more than twice that rate.

“Not a lot of follow-through with them or minimal follow-through and half measures, so it’s difficult to know if this — in the long run — will be something similar as far as the result goes or if this will be something that creates change in our community,” Thompson said.

Boulder police say they will release body camera video and an incident report when their separate internal process is complete. They said that will be at the end of April or beginning of May.

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