DPD Internal Affairs: Man who lost eye during protests was struck by PepperBall

Local News

DENVER (KDVR) — A PepperBall struck Jax Feldmann in the eye during the George Floyd Protests in downtown Denver, causing him to lose sight in one eye, according to a recently completed Denver Police Department internal affairs investigation.

The report found no particular officer at fault for firing the shot that struck Feldmann but did acknowledge he was struck with a police projectile.

‘No evidence shows who launched the PepperBall’

On May 30, 2020, Jax Feldmann was struck in the eye by a PepperBall that ricocheted off a streetlamp post. His eye was damaged beyond saving. As of this writing, the Denver Police Department (‘DPD’ or ‘Department) understands the eye will have to be removed,” the report found.

Feldmann, who told the Problem Solvers he was walking with a friend toward his parked vehicle when he was struck, said he was not participating in the protests. He did yell out, however, “We are all Americans,” before someone fired a shot in his direction.

Jax Feldman suffered an eye injury during protests in Denver (Credit: Jax Feldman)

The Problem Solvers obtained security footage from a nearby apartment complex that shows Feldmann being struck by the PepperBall. 

“No evidence shows who launched the PepperBall,” the report found.

A charge of assault against an officer, according to the DPD internal affairs report, requires an “identifiable suspect” who shows intent.

“No officer remembers this incident specifically. In addition, no officer remembers seeing Mr. Feldmann fall to the ground after being struck with a PepperBall,” the internal affairs investigation found.

“Without video of an officer launching the PepperBall hitting Mr. Feldmann, without an admission of doing so…and without any witness saying he did, there is no preponderance of evidence to either prove or disprove the allegation…” the report found.

In a letter to Feldmann, Commander Hans Levens of the conduct review office reported, “there was not a preponderance of evidence to identify the officer that may have committed a policy violation.”

He concluded the notice with by telling Feldmann, “It is through input from citizens such as yourself that we are better able to identify training and disciplinary needs of the Department. It is hoped that any future contacts with members of the Denver Police Department are more positive in nature.”

People run from tear gas thrown by the police near the Colorado State Capitol as protests against the death of George Floyd continue for a third night on May 30, 2020 in Denver. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

‘I think it’s a shame’

Feldmann, who saw the footage of the incident for the first time when the Problem Solvers shared it with him, said he was disappointed that no officers were being disciplined for the incident.

“It honestly kind of angers me a little bit more because they’re not pressing charges, and they know they’re the ones that fired it. They’re not taking any disciplinary action towards anybody. It’s just kind of like it happened, and ‘Oh well,’” said Feldmann, who said he hopes for more accountability and change from the City. “I think it’s a shame and kind of disappointing in our justice system,” said Feldmann, who said he still deals with PTSD and anxiety after losing his eye. “You can clearly see there is no justice being made.”

The chairman of Denver’s Citizens Oversight Board said the board is “deeply troubled” by the events that led up to Feldmann’s injury.

“We are also disappointed that no one has been held accountable yet. We are hopeful that the Active Bystander Training (ABLE), which DPD is currently undergoing, will make a difference in situations like this one by encouraging other officers who are present to speak up. An overhaul of ‘blue wall’ culture will prevent senseless injuries, save lives and taxpayer resources,” said Al Gardner, the chairman.

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