Mayor: 14-Minute Response Time to 16th Street Mall Brawl Under Investigation

Update: We've been sharing information about a brawl last week on the 16th Street Mall in which a California couple was reportedly beaten by a group of teens after complaining about littering; see our previous coverage below.

Among the questions to arise: Why did it take Denver police officers fourteen minutes to respond to 911 calls about the incident?

Now, Denver mayor Michael Hancock is saying that this issue is a focus of the ongoing investigation into the assault — but he urges people concerned about what took place, and the state of the 16th Street Mall in general, to be patient and allow police to do their work.

This information comes courtesy of Fox31, which has done the heavy lifting in reporting about the incident. It remains astonishing to us given the importance of the 16th Street Mall to Denver as a whole that other TV stations, and most other news agencies, haven't picked up the story.

As noted below, a couple visiting from California (they've been identified only as Mitch and his fiancee) were dining outdoors at the Rock Bottom Brewery, near the intersection of 16th and Arapahoe, at about 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 13, when they saw a group of teens littering.

Criticism of this behavior led members of the group to attack the couple, with Mitch sustaining the worst injuries. In addition, a Good Samaritan who tried to help was stabbed with a box cutter. Fortunately, the latter person's injuries didn't prove life-threatening.

At first blush, the fourteen minutes it took officers to reach the scene seems excessive, especially given the significant police presence most visitors to the mall see at all times of the day. And that's not to mention private security personnel that are regularly deployed in the area.

This lag gave the perpetrators a chance to rabbit. The five people the cops detained in the wake of the beating were subsequently released and no arrests have been publicly announced. Police say they're reviewing security camera footage in the hope of identifying suspects.

In the meantime, Fox31 buttonholed Mayor Hancock to ask him about the attack — and that fourteen minute gap.

“We’re taking a serious look at the incident itself, we're taking a serious look into police response times,” Hancock told the station, adding that he had consulted with Denver Police Chief Robert White about the situation.

At the same time, Hancock stressed that "“it’s also important we not overreact with these sort of incidents, that we follow our typical protocol to investigate and to hold those responsible once we understand the facts of the incident.”

We hope the pressure applied by Fox31's reporting and the passionate responses of folks like a Westword reader who, in a recent Comment of the Day, stated that the "16th Street Mall is a haven for drugs and pan-handling and makes for a place no one wants to visit," will expedite this process.

Look below to see the latest Fox31 piece, followed by our previous coverage.

Update, 5:48 a.m. August 17: Last week, we told you about a brawl that took place on the 16th Street Mall in which a couple was beaten by a group of teenagers; see our previous coverage below.

Now, the victims have stepped forward, telling their story to Fox31.

The station identifies the man only as Mitch and the woman as his fiancee.

Moreover, video images of them in a report on view below conceal their identities — although an unpixilated version of the photo of the top of the post is included (and shared below).

The two reveal that they were visiting from California when they were attacked for telling a group of teens not to litter.

According to Mitch,who just celebrated his fiftieth birthday, the pair were dining outside the Rock Bottom Brewery at about 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 13.

That's when a comment about littering led to an argument between the couple and the teens — and it soon got physical.

As many as twenty teens may have been part of the attack.

The eye of Mitch's fiancee was injured in the exchange, as seen here....

...but Mitch took the lion's share of the abuse.

“I got dog-piled, kicked in the head and punched repeatedly,” he told the station.

The full-size photo broadcast by the station shows the results of the pummeling.

Here it is:

A bystander who saw what was going on tried to help.

Unfortunately, he wound up being pierced by a box cutter.

Meanwhile, 911 calls went out to the Denver Police Department.

But it took fourteen minutes for officers to arrive — too long, in Mitch's estimation. DPD spokesman Sonny Jackson notes in the package that the department will look into the response time to see if it was excessive.

Initial reports on the morning after the melee stated that five people had been taken into custody for their suspected involvement in the brawl.

However, all of those individuals were released — and thus far, no one has been charged with the attack.

The case isn't closed, and there's the possibility that some of the assailants can be identified from video surveillance footage.

Still, plenty of damage has been Mitch, his fiancee and the 16th Street Mall's reputation.

Here's the Fox31 piece, followed by our previous coverage.

Original post, 5:59 a.m. August 14: Just yesterday, we shared our list of the ten reasons to love the 16th Street Mall.

But last night, something happened on this stretch that no one can love.

A brawl involving a couple of diners and a group of what one witness describes as teens resulted in two injuries and five arrests.

The incident took place near the intersection of 16th and Arapahoe, an area captured in the following interactive graphic. If you have problems seeing the image, click "View on Google Maps."

Thus far, the Denver Police Department hasn't tweeted about what took place — but Fox31 has the scoop.

According to the station, which references commentary from DPD spokesman Sonny Jackson, a couple was dining outside in the area of several eateries, including Tokyo Joe's.

At some point during their meal, the pair reportedly exchanged words with a group of people; a witness quoted in a report broadcast a short time ago described them as being in their middle teens and numbering in the ten-to-twelve range.

Before long, the conversation turned violent, with the male diner taking a beating.

Several witnesses who saw what happened tried to break up the fight, the station goes on.

In the midst of the melee, one of the Good Samaritans was stabbed.

The stabbing victim was transported to an area hospital with injuries that are characterized as non-life-threatening.

Another person was hospitalized, too, and five people are said to have been taken into custody for their alleged role in the assault.

The were found near 16th and Wazee.

As our Patricia Calhoun noted yesterday, the "Downtown Denver Partnership, the City of Denver and several other agencies have hired Copenhagen-based Gehl Architects, a 'global leader in people-centered design,' on a $650,000 contract to study the mall and identify challenges and opportunities" for the 16th Street Mall.

The project has been described as a "revisioning" of the mall's potential.

We're confident everyone involved with these entities would like to revision last night's incident out of existence entirely.

Here's the Fox31 piece.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
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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

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