Knockout game-style attacks: Did Denver police take too long to make them public?

Earlier this week, we told you about three New Year's assaults in downtown that bear strong resemblances to the "knockout game" -- sucker punches intended to render random strangers unconscious.

Now, the Denver Police Department is facing criticism for taking the better part of a week to let the public know about the incidents mere months after apologizing for a delay in sharing info about a beating at a light-rail station. This time, though, DPD chief Robert White isn't saying anything was done wrong.

As we've reported, the three latest assaults took place on January 1 between 1:30 a.m. and 2:15 a.m. near a trio of major downtown intersections: 16th and Blake, 20th and Market, and 20th and Larimer.

Among those victimized was Nick Lloyd, who spoke with 9News about injuries he sustained after he and a friend were approached by a group of men: multiple facial fractures that will require surgery.

Since then, another victim, Matt Draper, has come forward. He shared this image.... ...with 7News, whose Marc Stewart also sat down with the DPD's White to ask why it had taken so long for the cops to release information about the incidents -- questions very similar to ones the chief faced last October over a beating at the 30th and Downing light-rail station that had actually taken place on September 18 -- not that anyone knew about it at the time. Indeed, it took three weeks or so for Crime Stoppers to release video from the attack, and CBS4 subsequently floated a theory about the reason behind this passage of time. Turns out victim Gregory Moscato (who stopped cooperating with the investigation) actually knew two of his attackers, raising the possibility that he'd been pummeled in the wake of a drug deal gone wrong.

Before that info surfaced, though, White held a news conference during which he said, "In hindsight we absolutely should have released this information earlier to the community. The desire is to balance notifying the community with closing the case."

There's been no such mea culpa this time around, as witnessed by both White's conversation with 7News and a series of semi-defensive tweets sent out by the department.

Continue for more about the knockout game-style attacks, including a photo and two videos. Here are the tweets in question. The first four are numerically linked, while the fifth puts a period of sorts on the discussion:

As for White, he said, "Obviously, we'd like to get out information if we think it's of some relevance to the community." But he defended the timing of the release. "If we just acted on one or two of those incidents, we could have gotten out earlier," he acknowledged. "But after looking at the three of them collectively, and looking at 'Was there a possible pattern,' we couldn't have gotten it out earlier, because we didn't get all of the information from all of the three crimes at the same time."

White added that unlike in the case of the light-rail attacks, HALO cameras didn't capture any of the New Year's assaults. As such, finding who was responsible for clubbing Lloyd, Draper and the third victim -- and discovering whether the individuals in question were playing the knockout game -- will be that much more difficult.

Look below to see two 7News videos -- the main report and raw footage of Stewart's interview with White.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Knockout game in Denver? Cops investigating three New Year's sucker-punch assaults."

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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