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Denver police officer accused of injuring bystanders in LoDo 2022 shooting takes plea deal

LoDo Beer Hall shooting
Posted at 10:17 AM, Jan 23, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-23 19:14:02-05

DENVER — A Denver police officer accused of injuring multiple bystanders in a shooting after he spotted an armed suspect downtown in 2022 took a plea deal and was sentenced on Tuesday morning.

Brandon Francisco Ramos was sentenced to 18 months of probation by Judge Nikea Tanisha.

Ramos initially pleaded not guilty in September 2023 to two counts of felony second-degree assault - reckless, three counts of misdemeanor third-degree assault – knowing/reckless, three counts of misdemeanor third-degree assault – negligence with a deadly weapon, one misdemeanor count of prohibited use of a weapon, and five misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment. Ramos, who joined the Denver Police Department in 2019, was suspended without pay due to the felony charges, which is standard protocol, according to DPD.

In court Tuesday, both sides agreed for Ramos to plead guilty to third-degree assault in exchange for the other charges to be dropped.

The shooting happened around 1:30 a.m. of July 17, 2022, as bars were letting out in Denver's Lower Downtown (LoDo). Denver police were attempting to take Jordan Waddy, who was 21 at the time, into custody after he was allegedly involved in an altercation outside of Larimer Beer Hall. According to body camera video, Waddy pulled a handgun from the side of his hoodie's front pocket, threw it onto the ground and raised both hands in the air as police began firing at him from the front and the side. He was among a crowd of people.

Videos show LoDo police shooting that left 6 bystanders injured

In total, six people, plus Waddy, were injured. The six people were bystanders and suffered non-life-threatening injuries from a "direct or indirect result of the officer-involved shooting," according to Denver police.

READ MORE: Witness recounts 'traumatic' moments after officer-involved shooting in downtown Denver

Waddy was charged with three counts of possession of a weapon by a previous offender and one count of third-degree assault, according to the Denver District Attorney's Office. On Jan. 12, 2024, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit possession of a weapon by a previous offender, which is a Class 6 felony, according to the Denver District Attorney's Office. His sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 30.

Three of the victims in the case spoke in court on Tuesday.

Willis Small IV told the court that he feels blessed that he can still walk and breathe, and is thankful nobody was killed that night. He stressed that if a person other than a police officer had been "ill-minded enough to do what he did," they would either be dead or in jail. He asked for Ramos to be held accountable for his bad judgment. We need to make sure that this does not happen again, Small said.

Bailey Alexander said Ramos' actions have had a profound and permanent impact on the victims' lives, and she said she hoped the judge understood why she wanted to ask for the maximum sentence possible. She said remembering every detail is difficult, but she can still recall seeing her blood in the street, somebody at the hospital calling her mother and her boyfriend covered in her blood. As the investigation unfolded, she learned she — and others — had been injured by a police officer.

"How is that possible? They are supposed to protect us from the bad guys, right? How did this happen?" she said in court.

She acknowledged that Ramos did not intend to hurt innocent people, but his actions caused immense damage.

Yekalo Weldehiwet began his statement by explaining the challenge of talking about the shooting, which has affected him in "a lot of ways," he said.

"Some days are OK, others are really tough," he said.

He said he now lives with a new sense of vulnerability, muscles that are always tense and a different dynamic with his family and friends as they try to understand what he went through. Going out at night feels like a big deal, he explained, but he always feels on guard.

"It's exhausting," he said.

After the announcement on Tuesday, Denver District Attorney Beth McCann issued the following statement:

“This has been an incredibly difficult experience for the young people who were shot by Officer Ramos and I wish them the best in their recovery. But, given the fact that Officer Ramos clearly did not intend to shoot innocent bystanders, I believe a conviction for third degree assault, for recklessly causing the victims’ injuries, is the appropriate resolution in this case. Of course, none of this would have happened had Jordan Waddy not been carrying an illegal weapon and, for that reason, I am pleased that Mr. Waddy has pleaded guilty to a felony charge and will be held accountable for his role in the events of that night.”

In addition, the Denver Police Department said it has updated and enhanced its officer training for these types of encounters. They confirmed Ramos is on unpaid administrative leave as the internal review of the incident continues.

Four of the people injured in the shooting — Alexander, Weldehiwet, Small and Mark Bess — filed a lawsuit against Ramos in April 2023.

The lawsuit says the plaintiffs suffered economic damages, including medical expenses and lost wages, as well as noneconomic damages, including emotional distress, due to Ramos' actions. The four now live "in a state of anxiety and fear in public settings, and particularly in crowds," the document reads.

The plaintiffs are asking for compensatory and consequential damage, but a specific amount was not listed.

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