Olde Town Arvada Attack and Brief History of Friday News Dumps

Olde Town Arvada shooter Ronald Troyke seen with an AR-15 in a video released Friday, June 25, by the Arvada Police Department.
Olde Town Arvada shooter Ronald Troyke seen with an AR-15 in a video released Friday, June 25, by the Arvada Police Department. Arvada Police Department
In the days following the June 21 attack in Olde Town Arvada that left three people dead, including Arvada Police Officer Gordon Beesley, reports surfaced that gunman Ronald Troyke had actually been killed by Johnny Hurley, who was then fatally shot by another member of the Arvada Police Department. But the APD didn't officially confirm this sequence of events until it shared a timeline and video at 4:20 p.m. on Friday, June 25.

The release claimed this information was being divulged "in an effort to be transparent with our community." But the department's timing corresponded with what's become known as the "Friday afternoon news dump" — a period when agencies try to cushion the blow of bad news by revealing it when people who already have their mind on the weekend may miss it entirely.

This ploy is hardly a secret. And other examples of Friday afternoon news dumps demonstrate that while the tactic may be effective in the moment, it doesn't always work over the long haul.

Or in the short haul, as evidenced by the coverage that followed the release of this Olde Town Arvada video on June 25:

Here are five more examples of Friday afternoon news dumps in metro Denver, all regarding incidents that ultimately received lots of attention — and, in some cases, led to payouts to the victims.

2013: Alex Landau

On a Friday afternoon in April 2013, then-Denver Manager of Safety Alex Martinez announced that there would be no charges against the three Denver police officers who nearly beat college student Alex Landau to death in 2009 over a minor traffic infraction. (Yes, Landau is Black.) But nearly two years earlier, in 2011, the Denver City Council approved a $795,000 settlement over what had happened to Landau. And later in 2013, one of the cops involved, Ricky Nixon, was back in the headlines after his firing for another 2009 excessive-force incident, this one involving four women who were roughed up at the Denver Diner, that generated a $360,000 settlement of its own. Nixon fought his sacking, and his story remained in the headlines until 2016, when a Denver District Court ruled in his favor. That same year, Landau won an Emmy for a video about his experiences, once again defying attempts to bury what happened to him.

2015: Jessie Hernandez

In June 2015, the Denver District Attorney's Office waited until a Friday afternoon to unleash a decision letter explaining why no criminal charges would be pressed against the Denver Police officers who fatally shot seventeen-year-old Jessie Hernandez while she was behind the wheel of a stolen car the previous January. But shortly thereafter, the DPD officially changed its policy about allowing cops to shooting into moving vehicles as a result of the preventable tragedy, and in 2017, the City of Denver paid $1 million to settle a lawsuit over Hernandez's death.

2017: East High School

In August 2017, video of East High School cheerleader Ally Wakefield crying out in agony as cheer coach Ozell Williams and three teammates held her down went viral, plunging Denver Public Schools into a public-relations nightmare. The next month, DPS issued a report about what went down on a Friday afternoon, along with word about the de facto ousters of East principal Andy Mendelsberg and assistant principal/athletic director Lisa Porter. But by letting the situation play out in the press for weeks before finally resolving it, the district essentially defeated the purpose of the news dump.

2019-2020: Elijah McClain

The City of Aurora has repeatedly used late-Friday releases in an attempt to slow-roll news related to the August 2019 death of Elijah McClain, a young Black man assaulted by Aurora police officers even though he was unarmed, had committed no crime and was merely dancing to music while wearing a ski mask. Examples include the November 2019 revelations that the coroner for Adams and Broomfield counties had ruled the cause of McClain's death to be "undetermined" and that officers involved in the incident wouldn't face criminal charges, as well as news about the resignation of a cop who'd participated in a tasteless photo at the site of the incident. But these efforts didn't prevent an independent investigative team from issuing a damning report about the city's actions this past February. The results of more investigations and litigation filed by McClain's family members are still pending.

2021: Von Miller

Here's one time when a news dump worked. In January, word leaked that a criminal investigation had been launched by the Parker Police Department into Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller — one whose genesis and substance were never revealed. But in March, less than two weeks after receiving the case, the 18th Judicial District DA's office announced on a Friday afternoon that it had declined to file charges against the onetime Super Bowl MVP. Miller is now gearing up for the 2021-2022 season, and the headline-making mess is largely forgotten. That's the goal of officials who wait until the eve of a weekend to come clean.
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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