DENVER (KDVR) — The Denver Police Department is investigating whether five bystanders wounded during an officer-involved shooting were hit with direct fire from an officer’s weapon.
“Is this shrapnel? Is this debris? Is it direct fire? Is it indirect fire? We certainly want to look at all of those,” Chief Paul Pazen said.
Pazen told the Problem Solvers that multiple investigative entities — including the Office of the Independent Monitor and the Denver District Attorney’s Office — are conducting interviews and examining evidence to determine how so many people got hurt and whether the police officers were following policy when they fired their weapons at the suspect, Jordan Waddy, striking him.
“We are very concerned about anyone who was injured as a result of this incident,” Pazen said.
Four of the five bystanders who were struck were released from the hospital, and all of the injured had non-life-threatening injuries.
Pazen said he hoped the police department would have more information by Wednesday after investigators complete more critical interviews and review evidence. He said the department would also be reviewing internal policies to determine whether the tactics police used were appropriate.
Police officers were wearing body cameras, and city HALO cameras captured some of the incident, according to Armando Saldate, Denver’s director of public safety.
Denver Police accused man of pointing gun
According to an arrest affidavit obtained by the Problem Solvers, police accused Waddy of being involved in an altercation in which he appeared to have a firearm in his waistband.
“Waddy began to grab at his waistband and lifted up his hoody as though he was armed with a handgun,” the police documents say.
Officers said they started to approach Waddy, who “began to walk away from the officers.”
One officer, whose name was redacted from the police document, said he observed Waddy with the firearm. The officer said “he was in fear for his life as Waddy was now armed with a firearm and pointed the firearm in their direction.”
“How he was approached, how the officers engaged with him becomes critically important,” said Dennis Kenney, a criminal justice professor at City University of New York. “Now, the point where he pulls the gun and starts pointing it, then your options are much more limited.”
Training and policy are important, Kenney said. The goal, he said, is to create a situation in which an officer’s decision about whether or not to shoot is not a split-second decision.
“They need to ask themselves, ‘Were there better ways that we could’ve approached the suspect that in the event it did turn into a shoot-don’t-shoot situation, that we had greater control of the environment?’”
The Problem Solvers obtained records showing Waddy previously served time in the Youthful Offender System for his participation as a teen in an attempted aggravated marijuana robbery that ended with someone being killed.