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Councilwoman CdeBaca discusses police-protester confrontation after more body camera released

Posted at 6:45 PM, Sep 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-09 01:49:37-04

DENVER — Through an open records request, Denver7 has received copies of police body camera video showing more of what took place during a confrontation between police and a group of people protesting a homeless cleanup on Aug. 19.

Denver police were overseeing the cleanup near 29th and Glenarm when protesters began gathering. One of those protesters was Denver City Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca. The footage shows CdeBaca and others chastising the officers who were protecting other city employees as they dispersed a homeless encampment from the area.

In the video, CdeBaca can be heard criticizing officers, at one point calling police officers “dogs.”

“They don’t know s--, they do what they're told. They’re f---ing guard dogs. They’re f---ing guard dogs. They’re just animals like pit bulls, they’re f---ing guard dogs,” CdeBaca is heard saying to the officers.

During the incident, one of the officers’ body cameras was knocked off. That camera was found by a protester and brought to CdeBaca’s attention. She can be heard telling protesters to hang on to the camera.

“There might be footage on there that we need,” she says. “But I don’t know how to access it. We could give it to the attorney.”

In Denver7’s previous coverage of the incident, Cdebaca called on any protester injured by police to sue the city, something that clearly angered the police union and Chief Paul Pazen.

CdeBaca’s said her actions during the protest were simply an effort to look out for the best interests of her constituents.

In a lengthy response, CdeBaca outlined her reasoning behind what is seen in the footage.

“I have been working diligently with DPD officers in my district ever since I was elected into office. I recognize that we all have been put into a difficult situation by the Mayor who continues to act against CDC guidance during a pandemic. Day in and day out, I see the inhumanity of the Mayor’s homeless sweeps. On that particular day, I personally witnessed officers abusing my constituents outside of my office, which took place two days after my peace force bill was voted down. I watched helplessly as four of my constituents were swept as if they were trash rather than human beings, without being shown any compassion. I witnessed two constituents who suffered medical episodes as a result of the stress by the militarized sweep, including one who had to be taken to the emergency room.

“My comments were directed at officers who stood by while these inhumane events took place. At the root of why people believe policing must evolve is the shame and outrage we feel at the enforcement of the most egregious laws called Black Codes, which is why on the body cam video, you can hear me refer to the outdated vagrancy laws that were used to arrest Black people after they were freed from slavery.

“Rather than focusing solely on the language that I used to convey my distress as I stood behind police tape while my constituents were being abused, it would be more productive to focus on those who were assaulted by DPD that day, and on the $10,000+ in wasted taxpayer dollars used to deploy over 60 officers to remove 4 campers, rather than using those funds to get them off the streets in the first place. When housed people are evicted from their homes, the city rarely uses more than two Sheriff’s deputies to remove them, yet when DPD officers are involved the force is often excessive. Why does this administration deny unhoused people the equal protection of our laws? I will continue to stand up for those who are least able to protect themselves from such abuses.

“Finally, during the altercation between a police officer and protesters, an officer apparently lost their body camera, which was turned in to me. I returned that camera to Chief Pazen the following day. Any suggestion otherwise is irresponsible. It is also irresponsible to release only the leaked snippets rather than the complete footage from all officers involved in those beatings that day. Hopefully, you will cover the full context of these issues rather than producing yet another one-sided policing story that leaves out the trauma sustained by victims of excessive force, and the Mayor’s failed homelessness policies.”

Denver7 reached out to the mayor’s office as well and the Denver police union president for comment and had not received responses as of the time of publication.

In a statement, DPD spokesman Doug Schepman said the following:

“Officers were in the area of 29th St. and Glenarm St. contacting individuals experiencing homelessness, working to connect them with available services and enforcing the Unauthorized Camping Ordinance, and some individuals accepted medical and housing services.

“While in the area, officers observed a man among a crowd of people who appeared to be armed with a handgun. Out of concern for everyone’s safety, the suspect was detained and was found to be in possession of a realistic replica firearm (BB or air soft type gun).

“While detaining the man, two Denver Police officers were struck and/or kicked by bystanders. The officers who were assaulted radioed for assistance and a large number of officers responded to the area to move the crowd back.

“The officers suffered minor injuries; they were checked out and cleared by paramedics on-scene.

“DPD is continuing to review this incident.”

Denver police union president Nick Rogers spoke with Denver7 Tuesday evening, and said CdeBaca lied about being in possession of the body camera for less than a day.

"She was in possession of it for 51 hours, there's no disputing that."