Police Chief says photos, videos from brutal 5-on-1 beating should have been released sooner

Victim was knocked out, suffered head injuries

DENVER - Denver's Police Chief says he believes the public should have been made aware of a brutal 5-on-1 beating at a light rail station sooner.

Although he praised the work of his officers, Police Chief Robert White candidly admitted that his department kept the case secret for too long.

"In hindsight, we absolutely should have released this information earlier," he said.

The beating and robbery was caught on video when it occurred at the 30th and Downing Street station on Sept. 18. Since that time, White said, investigators have made one arrest and identified a second person of interest.

The case, however, wasn't made public by the department until photos and videos from the crime were released by Metro Denver Crime Stoppers on Monday -- Oct. 7 -- nearly three weeks later.

The case garnered national attention after being reported by local media.

The victim of the beating and assault was identified as Gregory Moscato, according to police records. Metro Denver Crime Stoppers said he is 23 years old.

The attack happened about 9:15 p.m. Police initially received a report of a possible robbery in progress aboard a light rail train en route from the 20th Avenue and Welton Street station to the 30th Avenue and Downing Street station, according to police report.

A clip from the video of the attack begins with the group surrounding Moscato, who has his back to a hand rail. As it begins, one suspect pushes the 23 year old and hits him in the face, knocking the victim's cap off. Others start throwing punches and eventually the victim falls to the ground, where he is repeatedly kicked and stomped on.

Arriving officers saw several men beating and kicking a man at the bus shelter on the north end of the light rail station, the police report said.

The attackers ran, but police arrested 18-year-old Daishawn Matthews a half-block from the station, according to probable cause statement supporting the suspect's arrest. Three witnesses identified Matthews as being involved in the attack.

Moscato was knocked unconscious in the assault and suffered head injuries, police said. The man was transported to Denver Health Medical Center for treatment. Moscato told police he'd been robbed of his wallet, which contained about $600.

Explaining why the video wasn't released until nearly three weeks after the attack, the chief said that officers were trying to balance their duty of notifying the community with their attempts to close the case by ensuring potential witnesses are not influenced by seeing coverage of the case.

"We would like to independently have a witness identify the individuals without the alert," he said, "because a lot of times they will say, 'Oh yea, that's the person we saw.'"

7NEWS reporter Amanda Kost pressed the chief, asking why he believes the information should have been released earlier.

"Because if we have a robbery, and we have some suspects and we have a good idea of those individuals, I think as soon as is practical we should release that information for a couple reasons. No. 1:  600,000 eyes and ears in this community, so we certainly want to use the community, use their eyes and ears to help us identify the individuals. And also as it relates to just as a safety factor, alerting, alarming the community that there are individuals out there committing these kinds of offenses," he responded.

Answering additional questions, White said policies in the Denver Police Department will be reevaluated.

"In this case the decision [to not release the video sooner] was probably made at the district level. That's a conversation that we will have. And like I say, all of this was done with the best of intentions. As a matter of fact, an arrest was made as a result of that. But in hindsight, I think we are going to raise the bar a little bit in the future as it relates to how these videos should be -- when they should be released and who should ultimately have the authority to release them."

Denver Police spokeswoman Raquel Lopez said security was increased as a result of this attack.

"We have stepped up security not only with RTD, but with DPD," she said. "We are doing whatever we can to make sure the light rail station is secure and safe for people."

White told 7NEWS that he believes this case is an isolated incident.

Matthews, the only suspect arrested in the case so far, was formally charged by Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey with felony robbery on Sept. 23. The charge alleges that the teen took the victim's wallet and money "by the use of force, threats or intimidation." 

Matthews is free on $5,000 bond, but his bond conditions include that probation officers keep him under intensive supervision and a monitored curfew, according to court records.

Eleven days before the light rail attack, Matthews was arrested in Aurora on charges of driving under the influence, careless driving, hit-and-run after striking an unattended vehicle and obstructing a peace officer, according to arrest records.