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Mayor Hancock asks Denver city attorney to seek full restitution for damage caused in riot

City could potentially seek restitution for damage during other events as well, city attorney says
Posted at 4:46 PM, Aug 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-25 18:46:07-04

DENVER – Mayor Michael Hancock on Tuesday asked Denver’s city attorney to seek full restitution for the damage caused in a riot Saturday night in downtown Denver from those found to have caused damage.

The mayor did so in a Tuesday letter to City Attorney Kristin Bronson, which was obtained by Denver7, in which he asked her office to “prioritize the collection of necessary data related to damage of private and public property resulting from the intentional actions of rioters in our City." Several city buildings and private businesses saw windows smashed on Saturday night.

“As part of this action, I request your office prioritize the civil prosecution of restitution for the full costs of damage to public and private properties that individuals may have caused as part of their rioting,” the letter said.

Police arrested 12 people Saturday night – many on “obstructional equipment” charges but some on criminal mischief, dangerous weapon or assault charges as well. Mayor Hancock hinted at a news conference Sunday that the city would seek restitution from the people who caused damage throughout downtown.

As part of the data collection effort, investigators are expected to review more video, including HALO cameras, from across the downtown area to try to identify any other people who might have been involved with destroying private or public property who can be charged.

In an interview Tuesday afternoon, Bronson said that prosecutors and the city would determine which people might pay restitution, if they are convicted, on a case-by-case basis.

Bronson also said that the city could potentially seek restitution for damage caused during other incidents and would not limit its efforts to last Saturday’s events.

In Denver, restitution may be ordered by a judge from a person who pleads guilty or is found guilty at a trial if prosecutors can prove losses were caused by the person and can be documented. It can be sought by victims – which would in this case be the city or private businesses – for replacement or repair of damaged property, insurance deductibles and other expenses related to a crime.

Restitution is paid by a defendant if it is ordered and not through criminal justice funds, as is Crime Victim Compensation. If a person does not pay restitution as ordered, they could be sent to collections to make regular payments, but it can be difficult for victims to collect, as Denver7 has previously reported.

City officials have not released an estimate on the damage from this weekend, but the city said Monday it had already spent $1.37 million to repair damage from demonstrations earlier this year, along with added fencing and boards to protect windows.

In July, the state estimated the cleanup around the state Capitol would cost at least $1 million.

Denver Director of Public Safety Murphy Robinson said at Sunday’s news conference that the actions of the people on Saturday had nothing to do with the Black Lives Matter movement.

He said he was lifting the order he issued in March capping the population at the Denver County Jail, a move that was designed to limit jail population amid COVID-19.

"I want you to know that if you harm our city in any way ... you will be arrested and you will be a resident of the Denver County Jail," Robinson said.