Credibility:

  • Original Reporting
  • Sources Cited
Original Reporting This article contains new, firsthand information uncovered by its reporter(s). This includes directly interviewing sources and research / analysis of primary source documents.
Sources Cited As a news piece, this article cites verifiable, third-party sources which have all been thoroughly fact-checked and deemed credible by the Newsroom in accordance with the Civil Constitution.
The large crowd outside Larimer Beer Hall July 17 scattered after three Denver police officers fired at 21-year-old Jordan Waddy and injured six bystanders. (Screenshot from Denver Police Department surveillance footage)

A Denver police officer is facing criminal charges for shooting at an armed man and into a crowded area in downtown in July, injuring six bystanders, the Denver District Attorney’s Office said Wednesday.

Officer Brandon Ramos was indicted by a grand jury and faces 14 total charges, including several counts of reckless and knowing assault and reckless endangerment and prohibited use of a weapon.

The charges come six months after Ramos and two other Denver police officers fired seven rounds at 21-year-old Jordan Waddy on a packed sidewalk outside Larimer Beer Hall near the intersection of Larimer and 20th streets. Six people were hurt, with injuries ranging from superficial cuts and graze wounds to more serious arm and leg injuries.

“I want to thank the members of the grand jury who have spent many days over the last several months listening to testimony and examining exhibits,” Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said in a statement Wednesday. “This is a very serious matter and I appreciate the time and attention each of them devoted to this important decision. The case will now move forward in the courts.”

McCann called for a grand jury review of the incident after police released body camera footage of the July 17 shooting showing dozens of people scattering to the street after police shot Waddy on the sidewalk. Some fell and started to crawl across the sidewalk trying to seek cover behind a food truck and others appeared to be trampled.

The shooting happened about 1:30 a.m. in an area filled with nightclubs and food vendors who operate on sidewalks.

Ramos was aware of the people standing behind Waddy before he shot, police previously said. 

McCann and the grand jury said the two other officers involved do not face criminal charges because they “used a degree of force that was reasonably necessary to defend themselves” and put no one else at risk, according to the indictment

Ramos was not in immediate danger when Waddy started to pull his gun from his hoodie pocket while facing the two other officers, the indictment said. Ramos’ decision to shoot was “reckless, unreasonable and unnecessary for the purpose of protecting himself or other officers” and he “consciously disregarded an unjustifiable risk of injury to the crowd.” 

The district attorney’s office listened to testimony from 17 witnesses and reviewed 140 exhibits before returning the indictments, the district attorney’s office said.

During a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Denver police union president Tyson Worrell said Ramos was trying to protect the crowd and the suspect was wearing an ankle monitor “and should not have been out of jail.” Worrell said the union is standing behind Ramos and will support him.

“To charge this officer with a felony crime, jeopardizing his career (and) liberty for acting as he was trained in the public interest with no malice, ill intent or lack of concern is unfortunate and sad,” Worrell said. “We stand behind our officer. We remain confident when all evidence comes out it will be clear that Officer Ramos is not a criminal and should not be treated as one.”

Worrell said he was “deeply saddened” for anyone who was injured.

Three of the bystanders who were shot by Ramos thanked the grand jury “in seeking justice for the victims” of the shooting, they said in a statement from their attorneys’ office.

“This is just a small step toward the accountability our community deserves and expects from its law enforcement officers,” the statement said. 

One of the injured bystanders, Bailey Alexander, said she was relieved to hear Ramos was indicted and called for police accountability. After Ramos shot into the crowd, a bullet entered Alexander’s back and exited her arm.

“Officer Ramos’ conduct was in violation of both the law and common sense,” the 24-year-old said during a news conference. “It is by the grace of God that all three of us are able to stand here to talk to you today.” 

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock released a statement earlier in the day saying he was surprised by the grand jury indictment and called the bystanders’ injuries “regrettable.” 

☀ READ MORE

“Police officers make split second decisions under difficult circumstances on a daily basis, and those decisions are rooted in keeping people safe. While the situation remains an unfortunate one, and it’s regrettable that innocent bystanders were injured, I’m surprised to see that the grand jury found the officer’s actions involved criminal intent,” Hancock said in a statement. He declined to comment further citing the pending criminal case.

“Regrettable would be an understatement,” said Willis Small IV, who is missing a part of his foot after being hit by a bullet. “Like (Alexander) stated earlier, it is a blessing that any of us are standing here today, let alone the other people who were hit by bullets shot from an officer’s gun. They should be trained properly not to shoot in crowds.”

Their attorney Siddhartha Rathod said a civil suit has not yet been filed. 

The Denver Police Department declined to comment on the indictment, acknowledging the open case. When releasing the body camera footage, a police spokesman said the department was “deeply concerned” that six people were injured by rounds fired by the police. 

Ramos was granted a personal recognizance bond, the district attorney’s office said.

Waddy faces three counts of possession of a firearm as a previous offender and one count of third-degree assault.

Ramos’ next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 19.

Olivia Prentzel

Olivia Prentzel is a general assignment writer for The Colorado Sun. Email: oliviaprentzel@coloradosun.com