DENVER – Attorneys for a Denver man shot in the eye with a police projectile while he walked through demonstrations May 30 to get back to his car sent a letter to the mayor’s office and city council Monday that they were seeking a criminal investigation into the incident and compensation for his injuries and other damages.
Jax Feldmann told Denver7 in an interview last week he was blind in his left eye after being shot by police that day. He said he was at a friend’s home working on a menu for a restaurant and was walking to his car near 15th and Grant St. when he was shot by officers who had turned the corner.
"I wasn’t doing anything,” he said. “They didn’t tell me I was doing anything or to stop doing anything. There was no warning.”
He said that officers left the scene without assisting him and had no interaction with him or others in that area.
Feldmann said he was too afraid to look into the mirror to look at his eye, which doctors said will have to be removed, according to Monday’s letter.
“It’s been hell,” Feldmann said Monday, explaining how he gets migraine every might and has trouble sleeping.
On Monday, attorneys S. Birk Baumgartner, Sean M. Simeson and Dr. Matthew Griefe of Baumgartner Law wrote a letter to the city saying that they intend to try to recoup damages from the city for Feldmann because of the incident – though they asked the mayor’s office and city council to pay him a settlement without him filing a lawsuit.
“We understand that it is often hard for a political body to in fact ‘do the right thing;’ but this important moment in history will always be remembered and calls out to all of us to act in ways in which our children and successors can be proud,” the attorneys wrote.
They said that there is currently no pending legal action from Feldmann.
“[T]his letter is intended to initiate an acceptable compromise of all of Mr. Feldman’s claims before expending significant resources of time, finances and emotions necessarily involved in litigating claims of this nature,” the attorneys wrote.
They argue that since a federal judge in Denver issued a temporary restraining order implementing new restrictions on the use of less-lethal munitions against protesters, that officers’ “use of these weapons was objectively excessive and unreasonable.”
The attorneys wrote that they believe the city and police department are liable for civil rights violations against Feldmann under 42 U.S.C §1983, saying that they believe DPD officers violated Feldmann’s First Amendment right to peacefully assemble and that there is little doubt that an officer of the state shot him.
They also argue that the city “has shown a deliberate indifference to the need to better train and instruct its officers on the use of force.”
The attorneys are asking the city and police department to accept full liability for Feldmann’s injuries and damages; to open a criminal investigation into the incident and hold the officer criminally accountable, if necessary; and to “make a reasonable offer of settlement” to Feldmann to compensate him for injuries and damages.
Baumgartner delivered the letter to the mayor’s office and city council members on Monday. Baumgartner said that a spokesperson for Mayor Michael Hancock’s office promised to be in communication. The letter requests a response of some sort within 14 days.
Denver Police Department spokesperson Doug Schepman said there was an Internal Affairs investigation ongoing regarding the incident and that it would be inappropriate for the department to discuss the case while the investigation continues.
“This is a very important moment in history, and I think that this moment calls out to all of us, including the mayor and each city council person, to do the right thing and put aside legal maneuvering and really do the right thing for Mr. Feldmann,” Baumgartner said in an interview Monday. He is the same attorney who led the lawsuit against the city of Northglenn, whose police officers shot and killed a person and paralyzed another, which led to a $9 million settlement in January.
Feldmann’s mother, Tammy Feldmann, said it has been a heart-wrenching experience since her son was shot. She said in an interview she hopes that police “recognize they were wrong” and that even compensation would not fully replace what her son has lost.
“I don’t think there is victory,” she said. “Someone losing a part of their body just because they’re trying to get to their car on the sidewalk for 20 seconds, and a police truck comes by and shoots rubber bullets, which should be shot at the ground but not at your head. There’s not a victory.”