Activism

Police Detain Alleged Driver, Impound Vehicle That Rammed Into Officers, Civilian

A video posted to social media shows the car allegedly linked to a crash into a police vehicle in downtown Denver.
A video posted to social media shows the car allegedly linked to a crash into a police vehicle in downtown Denver. kiloww/Twitch
The Denver Police Department has impounded a car and detained an individual in relation to an incident late May 30, when the driver of the car rammed into a Denver police vehicle near where protests were taking place, "severely injuring" three police officers and a civilian.

At a May 31 press conference outside the boarded-up Denver City and County Building, as shouts from hundreds of protesters echoed in the background, Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen said that "the officers who were injured were doing so while serving our community."

In videos posted to social media sites, a Chevy sedan appears to speed off after striking a police vehicle just after 11 p.m. on May 30 at East 16th Avenue and Logan Street. The police vehicle, known as a rapid deployment vehicle, had rails along the sides where officers could stand.

"I don't know if they were on the rails or they were off the rails," said DPD spokesman Kurt Barnes. "They were in and around the vehicle because the vehicle was also struck."


The car linked to the crash was found in the metro area, and an individual is being held in relation to the incident. But that's the extent of what the DPD is willing to reveal at this point.

"We will be releasing additional information on the case tomorrow during the day. At some point, there will be follow-up information available, probably booking photos and the probable-cause statement," adds Barnes.

A curfew, the first in recent memory for Denver, had been in effect for several hours at the time of the incident, but some protesters remained in the streets. As at previous nights' demonstrations, and earlier that evening, police were still launching tear gas canisters and shooting pepper-spray balls at the demonstrators. This use of what the DPD refers to as "less lethal force" was a response to bottles being thrown at officers, according to city officials.

At today's press conference, Pazen said that police had made over eighty arrests on the night of May 30, mostly for curfew violations. But some protesters were arrested on charges of assault, destruction of property, criminal mischief and felony weapons violations, he noted.


The ramming incident was at least the second time a vehicle had caused injuries during the protests. On May 28, a driver turning from Colfax Avenue onto Broadway accelerated even though protesters were blocking the car and a man was on the hood of the car. Within seconds, the man jumped off and to the side, only to be struck down by the car as it veered into him. According to Barnes, the DPD knows "who the driver is" and is "developing additional leads," but has yet not made an arrest.

Protests have continued today and will likely last into the night, despite the fact that there's another curfew between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. tomorrow. A hundred Colorado National Guard officers and members of other local law enforcement agencies will be assisting with curfew enforcement tonight.

“We’re determined to continue to support peaceful demonstrations so people’s calls for change and justice can be heard,” Mayor Michael Hancock said at the press conference. “But if anyone attempts to hijack these protests to incite violence and vandalism, we will do everything we can to stop it.”

And city officials had one more message for protesters: Owing to the absence of appropriate physical distancing, those who've taken part in demonstrations over the past several days are encouraged to get tested for COVID-19. Find test locations at denvergov.org/covid19.

Update: On June 1, the DPD revealed that the individual arrested in connection with the incident at 16th and Logan Street is 38-year-old Anthony Knapp.
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Conor McCormick-Cavanagh is a staff writer at Westword, where he covers a range of beats, including local politics, immigration and homelessness. He previously worked as a journalist in Tunisia and loves to talk New York sports.