DENVER (KDVR) — A Denver police officer has been fired for failing to render aid to a gunshot victim who died in 2020.
“In the early stages of this homicide investigation, the Denver Police Department recognized and had concerns about Officer Dewayne Rodgers’ failure to render aid to the shooting victim,” the Denver Police Department said in a statement to the Problem Solvers. “The Department opened an Internal Affairs investigation, thoroughly investigated the officer’s actions with oversight by the Office of the Independent Monitor, and the result of the disciplinary process was Officer Dewayne Rodger’s termination.”
The Problem Solvers have left a message for Rodgers but have yet to hear back. A second officer who was also on the scene resigned during the course of the disciplinary investigation.
“The callous lack of humanity that Officer (Dewayne Rodgers) displayed is best exemplified by his response to the victim saying, ‘Oh my god. Help me,’ when Officer Rodgers replied, ‘Do you live in this complex?'” a Denver Police Department Departmental Order of Disciplinary Action, signed by Mary Dulacki, the chief deputy executive director of Denver’s Department of Public Safety, said.
What the records show happened
According to records obtained by the Problem Solvers, Rodgers arrived at a shooting scene at the 10000 block of East Harvard Avenue on Sept. 7, 2020, where he encountered shooting victim JaLonte Jones,18.
Although Rodgers immediately requested an ambulance for the victim, he did not apply a tourniquet to Jones’ leg, where Jones had been wounded.
Rodgers reported that he normally carries a tourniquet but did not have one with him on the night of the incident. He also reported that he “did not have latex gloves and does not typically carry latex gloves but would have had no problem placing his hands on the victim without latex gloves,” according to disciplinary records.
According to the records, Rodgers reported that he entered the parking lot and was “flagged down by an individual who guided him to the victim’s location. Rodgers said the victim was on the ground, laying on his stomach. He described that ‘[t]he victim’s pants were so saturated with blood that it couldn’t be determined which leg he was shot in…’ Officer Rodgers wrote that after a few minutes, ‘the victim began moving around and rolled over onto his back and then stopped moving as the firefighters arrive on scene.”
The DPD investigation determined that Rodgers repeatedly asked Jones what his name was and whether Jones knew who had shot him.
Jones responded, sporadically, by declaring, “I’m dying.”
According to Denver Police disciplinary records, Rodgers said he couldn’t see exactly where Jones had been shot.
“I make the decision at that time not to touch him, because I can’t figure where he’s shot at. I don’t know how many times he’s shot,” the disciplinary records said Rodgers reported. “Nobody could give me the information that I can’t touch him. If I touch him, I might cause more harm than good to this guy, because I don’t know anything. Where he’s been shot or how many times he’s been shot. So, at that point I decided I’m not going to touch him. I’m going to keep him talking to me and keep him calm and try to keep him moving a lot,” he said, according to disciplinary records.
Eventually, Rodgers said the victim rolled onto his back, and he realized a tourniquet needed to be applied. Another officer, who arrived more than nine minutes after Rodgers requested the ambulance, attempted to place the tourniquet on Jones, but by that point, the victim “wasn’t moving at all,” Rodgers reported.
The disciplinary records indicate that Rodgers said he did not make a radio call to report Jones’ worsening condition and he never “got on the air requesting or saying a tourniquet might be needed.”
In a departmental order of disciplinary action, the police department found “Officer Rodgers made no attempt to render aid such as applying pressure to the area of the wound, which he expressed was a suitable alternative means of triaging a gunshot wound in the absence of a tourniquet. Officer Rodgers’ claim that he was concerned about aggravating the injury cannot excuse the lack of care he demonstrated since the foreseeable outcome of failing to render aid was death, which significantly outweighs any concern of aggravating an injury.”
‘Did you just not care enough?’
Dedranette Jones, JaLonte’s mother, said she listened to her son’s last words when they were played on a recording during a recent court hearing. She said she has questions for the first responders who were on the scene.
“He’s essentially bleeding out in this parking lot, and you seem to be more concerned with what happened and who shot him as opposed to finding the injury and trying to do whatever you can to help preserve his life,” Jones said.
“I do feel like if more effort would have been put forth, then maybe they could have saved his life,” she said. “Did you just not care enough? Did you look at it like this is just another gang member?”
She said he had been working through some struggles, but she could not have asked for a better son.
Jones described her son as a great friend to many. She said he was intelligent, athletic and artistic. He was also an aspiring rapper who had made some rap videos that are posted on YouTube.
“The light that he possessed was too bright and too big for that little bitty body that he was in, and now you can let all that light into the universe and now he’s just everywhere,” she said.
How are officers trained to respond?
According to the department, “officers began receiving tourniquet training in 2014, and since 2015, Tactical Casualty Care for Law Enforcement training has been required by POST for all recruit officers at the Denver Police Training Academy.”
According to the DPD Operations Manual, officers who come in contact with an injured person should “provide first aid (when appropriate) to their level of training without any unreasonable delay,” while waiting for emergency medical services.
The officers should make sure scene safety is the top priority, according to the operations manual. The operations manual also addresses officer procedures when handling a person who has been wounded by gunfire.
“Once it is safe to approach the suspect, officers will handcuff, search the individual thoroughly and take control of any weapons(s) within their immediate vicinity. When the suspect poses no further risk to officers or bystanders, officers will remove the handcuffs and when appropriate, they should rend first aid to their level of training without any unreasonable delay.”
Rodgers was also terminated last month for failing to provide proof that he had received the COVID-19 vaccine or had an approved exemption.