DENVER (KDVR) — Internal interviews conducted after the 2020 protests and riots reveal potential challenges and leadership failures in the Denver Police Department.
This comes from a fall six-month investigation by Office of the Independent Monitor. These interviews took place in fall 2020.
The information was revealed Friday during the federal trial of a lawsuit filed by protesters. Those protesters say their injuries were a result of violent police tactics during the protests and riots.
In one interview, a captain with the department suggest challenges with the DPD command post.
“Command Staff were ‘paralyzed’ in their decision making,” according to the now-public documents.
Another interview with a lieutenant with DPD’s training academy describes the department’s response to the George Floyd protests as a total leadership failure.
See the documents here:
- Interview of DPD Training Academy Lt. John Coppedge on Sept. 9, 2020
- Interview of DPD Sg.t Erik Knutson on Sept. 10, 2020
- Interview of DPD Capt. Sylvia Sich on Sept. 17, 2020
The documents say: “The officers on the ground were reacting to what they saw without any sort of leadership.”
Another sergeant with DPD — who was on vacation during the protests — says he watched videos of the protests, telling the independent monitor: “…the formations that were being used were ‘nothing that I ever trained on.’”
When he offered to come in to help police during the protest, he was told he wasn’t needed.
Mark Silverstein is the legal director with the ACLU of Colorado, one of the entities representing the plaintiffs in this case. He said “there is certainly considerable evidence emerging that there are huge, huge leadership problems in the Denver Police Department.”
Cameras are not allowed inside of the courtroom for this federal case but FOX31 was inside. Attorneys representing the defense say 81 police officers were injured during those protests.
The defense also raised this issue: the protests were decentralized, which can be challenging for police. DPD has not responded to requests for comment.