A man and his pregnant fiancee were delivering pizza for DoorDash when they were shot with pepper balls by cops wearing riot helmets in downtown Denver.
The cops were there for a protest earlier that evening. The couple had nothing to do with the protest.
“You shot a car with a pregnant woman in it. With tear gas!” shouted the driver, Shaiitarrio Brown, who had stepped out of his car.
Denver cops responded by firing a barrage of rounds at the couple, striking Brown and hitting his pregnant fiancé, Brittany King, several times in the abdomen before Brown got back in his car and sped off.
The incident occurred in the early hours of May 30 following a protest over the George Floyd murder in downtown Denver which drew a large police response.
Brown and King were trying to deliver a pizza to a customer when their vehicle was struck with a pepper ball near Civic Center Park along Colfax Avenue by an unidentified Denver police officer.
Video captured by YouTube vlogger “Ghost Writer” shows Brown exiting his vehicle and yelling at the officers multiple times that his passenger was pregnant and Denver Police responding by firing dozens of Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) filled pepper balls at them.
“I was scared. I didn’t know what to think,” King said in an interview with Denver7. “I know I had my window down and when the first shots came in, it hit my hand because I tried to cover my face.”
Brown was left shaken.
“Honestly I thought I was going to die. I thought I was going to be the next black man shot by police. I still feel that way.” Brown told 9NEWS in an interview.
Following the shooting, Brown and King drove to the hospital where Brown who was 18 weeks pregnant at the time was treated for a fractured hand and her fetus for an excessively high heart rate.
The shooting was not an isolated incident. Earlier that evening in the same area, a motorist videotaping police pepper spraying a journalist was pepper sprayed through the sunroof of his car.
Later that evening in the same area after Brown and King were shot, a person recording police from a distance was shot in the face with a pepper ball.
These shootings among many others that took place that week were in violation of Denver’s use of Force Policy because police were not in danger and the people were not posing a threat.
According to Denver’s Use of Force Policy, the use of pepper balls are only to be used:
To incapacitate a combative or physically resistive person
whose conduct rises at least to the level of Defensive Resistance. The purpose is to neutralize the person to the point they can be safely controlled and taken into custody. OR
In situations when its use is likely to prevent an officer or
third person from being injured, OR
To incapacitate a suicidal person who cannot be safely
controlled with other force options, OR
When ordered by the field force commander or other command
officer in crowd control or riot situations.
In the case of Brown and King, the shooting was also in violation of a departmental policy that prohibits police from shooting people they know are pregnant.
Unless deadly force is warranted, an officer shall not intentionally deploy the Pepper Ball projectile as follows:
To the head, eyes, throat, neck, breasts of a female, genitalia, or spinal column.
To a pregnant female, if the officer has knowledge of the pregnancy.
On or in an open wound if the officer has knowledge of the open wound.
These incidents along with others have prompted a class action lawsuit initiated by attorney Milo Schwab and on June 5th the presiding Judge, Judge R. Brooke Jackson released a ruling that stated “The Denver Police Department has failed in its duty to police its own,” and placed heavy restrictions on the use of pepper balls, teargas, and other less lethal munitions.
In a 9news interview Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen stated he was aware of the videos. “Some of the tidbits that I’ve seen, I’m concerned about. We need to make sure we address those.” Pazen claimed that he had initiated internal affairs investigations into multiple videotaped incidents including the shooting of Brown and King who have since obtained legal counsel.