Red Rocks shooting: Attorney David Lane on whether police response may have broken laws

As part of our coverage of last week's shooting at Red Rocks during the Nas-Flying Lotus-Schoolboy Q concert, we've shared a detailed description of the law enforcement response from Jeffco sheriff's office rep Jacki Kelley as well as accounts from Bree Davies and Mary Willson, two Backbeat contributors who were at the show.

The experiences of Davies and Willson occasionally differ from the description of events offered by Kelley. But did authorities break the law? We sought out the opinion of attorney David Lane, who last month filed a lawsuit on behalf of people subjected to searches and more following a 2012 bank robbery in Aurora -- with the latter delayed for far less time than were many Red Rocks attendees.

On June 2, 2012, as we've reported, Christian Paetsch, a former high-school music teacher, broke bad in a big way, donning a beekeeper's mask to rob a Wells Fargo bank in Aurora.

The suit notes that the cash stolen by Paetsch, who was sentenced to just over seven years behind bars for the crime back in April 2013, included a GPS transponder that signaled its general location to the Aurora Police Department. But as Lane told us at the time of our previous post, the APD didn't have the proper equipment needed to zero in on the device's exact location.

"The FBI had the pinpoint locator," Lane maintained, "but it was a Saturday, and when the Aurora police called, no one was home. So an on-duty agent had to drive for over an hour to get the pinpoint locator -- and when he finally arrived, he didn't know how to use it.

"At that point," he continued, "everybody had been detained for over an hour. People were pulled out of their cars at gunpoint, including a fourteen-year-old child, who had a high-powered rifle pointed directly at his chest. And pointing weapons at children is never all right unless the child is armed or you have some compelling reason to believe the child is armed."

In addition, some of the plaintiffs in the Aurora case claim to have been manhandled by police. Lane says one man who'd just undergone surgery was forced to his knees, then yanked by his shoulder in ways that still require physical therapy.

At this writing, we've heard no such stories coming out of Red Rocks, where officers from multiple agencies were on the lookout for a gunman who opened fire on an SUV containing hip-hop star Schoolboy Q; although the rapper was uninjured, three people in the vehicle with him were hurt. But while Jeffco's Kelley says that to her knowledge no concert-goers were asked to leave their cars so that law enforcers could search them, Davies reveals that this happened to her. Likewise, Kelley suggests that most people were held up for about ninety minutes after the show's midnight-or-so conclusion, but Willson was stuck for about four hours before she finally got going.

Were these violations? They might be, Lane believes.

Continue for more of our conversation with attorney David Lane about the shooting at Red Rocks, including additional photos.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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

Latest Stories