Skip to content

Yes, Denver police used excessive force



That’s the conclusion a federal jury came to on Friday.

The jury’s decision will result in a $14 million payout from the city of Denver to the plaintiffs: 12 protesters who claimed their constitutional rights were violated when they were injured by officers while participating in local police brutality protests in the spring of 2020. 

Police and protestors standoff on Broadway near the state capitol in May 2020. (AAron Ontiveroz / MediaNews Group / The Denver Post / Getty Images)

The trial lasted three weeks with officers, protesters, and witnesses taking turns on the stand. While other cases revolving around the 2020 protests are ongoing  around the country, this one is reported to be the first in the country to go before a federal jury, potentially setting a new precedent for criminal justice nationwide.

“Hopefully what [other] police departments will take from this is that a jury of regular citizens took these rights very seriously,” said Tim Macdonald, an attorney for the plaintiffs. “And they’re prepared to tell the police what they did to peaceful protestors is not acceptable.”

The jury only deliberated about five hours. Each plaintiff will be awarded between $750,000 and $4 million. Denver has already paid more than $3 million in settlements to 2020 protesters.

Ultimately, the jury found that the Denver Police Department failed to train its officers on how to properly respond to the protests, resulting in officers unlawfully using pepper balls and tear gas on peaceful demonstrators. The plaintiffs in this case said police actions left them with serious, long-lasting physical and psychological damage.

City attorneys, as well as DPD officials who took the stand, tried to convince the jury that in responding to the protests, it was too difficult to discern the peaceful demonstrators from the agitators. They asked the jury to consider the crowd’s behavior as a whole, which they claim was mostly violent and destructive. But in the end, the defense was unable to produce evidence that the 12 plaintiffs were acting in a way that warranted such use of force.

After the verdict was announced, the city officials stated, “We recognize that some mistakes were made.”

[👉 Read more: Denverite; Denver Post; City Cast Denver]


“I believe that firefighting has a lot to do with true grit. It has to do with perseverance. And, yes, fitness has a role, but it also has to do with what your fiber is on the inside.” — Deputy Fire Chief Kathleen Vredenburgh

After 156 Years, Denver Fire Finally Has its First Female Deputy Fire Chief

Kathleen Vredenburgh made headlines earlier this year when she was named Deputy Chief of Denver Fire, making her the highest ranking woman in the fire department’s 156-year history. Today on the show, Host Bree Davies talks with Vredenburgh about her experience as a firefighter, some misconceptions about the physical and mental stamina needed in the field, and how she’s getting more women into firefighting.


City Cast Denver reaches the Denverites who care most about what’s going on in town. Our readers are the dedicated residents who live and breathe all things Denver — they are looking for new restaurants, attending local events, and proud to be politically and socially engaged.

So get YOUR message out to our city’s best audience right now in the City Cast Denver newsletter or on the City Cast Denver podcast. Learn more at or email us at


🌮 Yeah, we miss Casa Bonita, too: We can’t be the only ones obsessively checking the Casa Bonita website for updates on its reopening. But according to executive chef Dana Rodriguez, we should temper our eagerness. She said the big day likely won’t come until the very end of this year. [Denver Post]

🔥 A moment of post-traumatic panic for Boulder: Plumes of dark smoke seen rising from the foothills on Saturday surely induced flashbacks to the start of the year when the Marshall Fire destroyed more than 1,000 homes in Boulder county. Thankfully, milder winds and fast-acting first responders managed to mostly subdue the fire that sprouted up in south Boulder near the National Center for Atmospheric Research this weekend. As of Sunday afternoon, the fire was 21% contained and had not resulted in any injuries or structural damage. [Denver Post

Become a better Denverite.
Subscribe today.