Death by Civic Center Plaza and Iconic 16th Street Mall

Denver police officers at the scene of a death just off 16th Street before 6 a.m. on August 27.
Denver police officers at the scene of a death just off 16th Street before 6 a.m. on August 27. Photo by Michael Roberts
At around 8 a.m. today, August 27, the Denver Police Department tweeted that the section of East 16th Avenue between Broadway and Lincoln, which had been closed in both directions for hours owing to a death investigation, was once again open to traffic.

The DPD added that the death "appears not suspicious or criminal in nature."

About 5:30 a.m., shortly after the the first police department tweet about the incident, the body of the thus-far-unidentified individual was just being covered inside an alley across East 16th Avenue from Civic Center Plaza.

A Denver police officer at the scene told Westword that detectives were en route, and their investigation was expected to extend the street closure by at least two hours.

While police believe the latest incident didn't constitute a crime, plenty of others in the area have fallen into that category. Note that a series of violent episodes along the 16th Street Mall in 2016 created many ugly headlines.

A new safety plan followed, and over the next year or so, overall crime decreased in the area. But that didn't mean unfortunate incidents on or near the mall were eliminated. In March 2018, we published an analysis of the blocks on the 16th Street Mall with the most crime. The mall is part of Denver's Central Business District, or CBD, and from February 18 to March 18 of that year, 142 crimes were recorded in the district as a whole according to the Denver Crime Map, an excellent tool that allows users to sort statistics for each neighborhood within the city limits over selected time periods and even drill down on certain types of offenses. Of that total, 46, or 32 percent, happened on the mall itself.

This morning, data from the Denver Crime Map over the past month, July 25 to August 25, showed 61 crimes recorded on the mall. Most of them were minor, including the likes of public disorder, trespassing, larceny and assorted drug- and alcohol-related violations. But there were also multiple robberies and two aggravated assaults, on August 12 and August 18, respectively. Both assaults were described as "threatening to imminently injure with a weapon."

This post has been updated with information about East 16th Avenue being reopened and the determination that the death was neither criminal nor suspicious in nature.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts