Enter Francis, the 26-year-old single mother of two. She'd gone to 7-Eleven after a party to "get me some nachos...I was over messing with the cheese, and I heard the word 'nigger.'" She turned and saw a white woman. She looked "different," and so did her male friends, who were in leather, with tattoos and body piercings. "I said, 'What are you, some skinhead or something?'" Francis remembered saying. Or something. The woman hit her, Francis said, and then her companions joined the fray. "It happened so fast," she said, "but the fight was forever."
The store's surveillance camera caught some of that fight on film. Francis's lawyers acknowledged that they knew about the camera but said they had yet to see the tape. Nor had they heard whether any of the "skinheads" Francis had identified that night would be charged. And yes, there was the possibility of civil litigation; they were lawyers, after all.
But on Tuesday, the Denver District Attorney's office--which was so quick to take action against Thill and against Lisl Auman, charged with the first-degree murder of VanderJagt--announced that "no criminal charges were fileable." Not against the six people originally hauled in, and not against Shomie Francis, "who was initially postured as the victim in this incident." In deciding not to file charges, the DA's office had relied on interviews and the store's tape--which showed a decidedly different version of events.
"I know I was the victim," Francis concluded at the end of her time in the spotlight, "but I can't deal with my own feelings. I'm never going to be able to heal until the truth comes out."
Nor can this city.
And the truth is that our autumn of angst was caused by a bunch of unorganized weaklings made strong with guns, fueled by speed and hype, going nowhere fast.