Although six months have passed since racial-justice protests started in Denver in the wake of George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police, dozens of those arrested at those actions and other demonstrations around the city are still facing criminal charges.
As of November 18, there were still at least 76 active criminal cases related to protests in the city since May 28.
The active cases are divided between the office of Denver District Attorney Beth McCann and the Denver City Attorney's Office. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Colorado is prosecuting at least two more cases related to protests; six demonstrators also face charges connected to Elijah McClain protests in Aurora.
The City Attorney's Office has dealt with close to 400 cases connected to protests in Denver over the last six months. City Attorney Kristin Bronson dismissed 325 of those cases, many of which were solely related to curfew violations; she settled another 23 following guilty pleas or diversion agreements before a case went to trial.
"The City continues to prosecute cases that involved aggravating facts or charges, like assault, threats, destruction of property, carrying a dangerous weapon, deploying fireworks, throwing stones, or obstructing a passageway," says Ryan Luby, a spokesperson for the City Attorney's Office. "We dismissed the curfew-only violations as part of a non-punitive, restorative approach outside of the Court system. As City Attorney Bronson stated in June, we recognize the profound value of peaceful protest, especially now. Other U.S. cities, including the City of Los Angeles, have taken a similar approach."
Aside from the racial-justice protests, arrests have also been made related to election demonstrations, homeless encampment sweeps and pro- and anti-police rallies.
As of mid-November, prosecutors in McCann's office were still pursuing 32 cases out of 45 filed since late May. The other thirteen were closed either through a guilty plea, charge dismissal, or a refusal to prosecute the case.
The charges in the remaining cases vary in severity. Some individuals are facing charges of criminal mischief; others charges relate to attempted murder.
Anthony Knapp, for example, was accused of driving into Denver police while protests were taking place nearby on the night of May 30. Knapp has pleaded not guilty to the attempted-murder charge.
And there's one murder case: Matt Dolloff, a security contractor providing protection for a 9News crew on October 10 at dueling pro-police and anti-police protests in Civic Center Park, was there when a scuffle broke out and shot Lee Keltner...an act captured on camera. Dolloff is facing a charge of second-degree murder, and is currently out of jail on bond.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Colorado is prosecuting a case involving an undocumented immigrant unlawfully possessing a firearm during a racial-justice protest; it's also filed a case against a man for shining a laser pointer at a Denver Police Department helicopter during a protest on November 4.
While all of these cases are slowly working through the justice system, Denver faces a growing number of federal lawsuits regarding how law enforcement responded to protesters this summer.
So far, lawyers have filed four federal lawsuits, including three that were subsequently combined into one. But another law firm says it's already put the city on notice about another possible lawsuit.
And more information is coming. On December 9, Nick Mitchell, the city's Independent Monitor, will present his findings on the police response to the George Floyd protests in Denver.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.