Law Enforcement

Anti-Vax Denver Cop Fired for Failing to Help Shooting Victim Who Died

Officer Dewayne Rodgers was among seven members of the Denver Police Department who filed a lawsuit in September over the city's mandate to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The suit was quickly dismissed, and now Rodgers has been, too — but his refusal to be inoculated is only one of the reasons why.

On November 23, Rodgers's employment with the DPD was terminated both because of his unvaccinated status and because he allegedly failed to render adequate aid to JaLonte Jones, an eighteen-year-old shooting victim. Jones subsequently died of his wounds.

The vaccination complaint, which named Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Denver Department of Public Health and Environment Executive Director Bob McDonald and Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen, argued that city officials had demonstrated a lack of compassion for employees in their edict requiring DPD personnel to get jabbed. "With caution thrown to the winds," the suit charged, "everyone — the young and healthy, the old, the previously recovered and naturally immune, even pregnant and breastfeeding women — is currently being pressured by governments, businesses and educational institutions to submit to a COVID inoculation with no assessment of the risks or benefits for each individual or any consideration of medical necessity or contraindication in each particular case."

But the DPD's departmental order of disciplinary action, issued by Mary Dulacki, the Denver Department of Public Safety's deputy executive director, portrays Rodgers as the one lacking empathy. A key passage contends that the officer's "callous lack of humanity...is best exemplified by his response to the victim saying, 'Oh, my God. Help me.'" After hearing this plea, Rodgers reportedly asked: "Do you live in this complex?"

On September 7, 2020, Rodgers was flagged down on the 10000 block of East Harvard Avenue by an individual who directed him to Jones. The officer found the teen lying flat on his stomach, with blood from a leg wound soaking his pants. But while Rodgers called for an ambulance, he didn't apply a tourniquet to Jones's injury, supposedly because he "did not have latex gloves and does not typically carry latex gloves."

Rodgers, who peppered Jones with questions while waiting for emergency personnel to arrive, insisted to DPD officials that he "would have had no problem placing his hands on the victim without latex gloves," but said he didn't do so because he feared that he might further hurt the victim. Jones eventually stopped moving, and was later declared dead.

The disciplinary letter doesn't directly accuse Rodgers of letting Jones die, but it comes close. "Though it is unknown if the victim would have survived this injury, had he received aid in the form of pressure or a tourniquet to slow the bleeding from his wound, it would be reasonable to expect him to be alive upon the paramedics' arrival," it maintains. "Had Officer Rodgers updated the information on the victim's condition, it is reasonable to expect that the paramedic response would have been faster."

Rodgers can appeal his termination through today, December 3. Click to read the DPD's departmental order of discipline and Dewayne Rodgers, et al., v. Michael Hancock, et al.
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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