Sep 20, 2023 - News

Denver community protests police shooting of Brandon Cole

Photo illustration of a Denver Police cruiser with lines radiating from it.

Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios; Photo: Steve Nehf/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Denver police's fatal shooting last month of Brandon Cole, a 36-year-old unarmed Black man, is sparking calls for change.

Why it matters: The shooting has further heightened tensions between police and the local community as the first trial in the death of Elijah McClain is expected to start this week.

Catch up quick: Cole was shot Aug. 5 outside his home in the Valverde neighborhood by a Denver officer responding to an alleged domestic violence incident reported by a neighbor.

  • Police shot him twice after he charged the officer with a black marker in his hand, which was mistaken as a knife. Denver's police department has not yet publicly identified the officer.

The latest: Clergy members, leaders of the local NAACP chapter, civil rights activists and attorneys for Cole's family gathered Tuesday to demand justice and reforms to Denver police's response to people in medical crises.

  • Cole's attorneys say that he had epilepsy and "medical problems," and that officers did nothing to investigate or de-escalate the situation before firing their weapons.
  • Many questioned why the city's alternative police response programs, like the Support Team Assisted Response, weren't deployed.

What they're saying: "We are tired, to say the least, as a community. We're tired of being called to protect and serve when we have people whose job it is to protect and serve," Reginald Holmes, a local pastor, said Tuesday at the Dayton Street Opportunity Center in Aurora.

  • "There seems to me to be two obvious tracts of [police] training: There's one tract of training that has an overwhelming sensitivity to white suspects. And then there is another training that does not have the same empathy for Black and brown people. The two tracts of training must disappear," he said.

The other side: Denver Police Chief Ron Thomas called the incident a "tremendous tragedy," but said the two officers involved did what they could to calm the situation.

What's next: The case remains under investigation, and the Denver District Attorney's Office will determine if the officer should face criminal charges.

  • Police are still working to figure out whether a domestic dispute was underway when officers responded. The two officers involved in the incident have been placed on modified paid leave while the investigation continues.

Of note: Cole's family has launched a GoFundMe page to help with expenses.

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