Denver police Chief Paul Pazen was often “angry or ‘paralyzed'” during the George Floyd protests in 2020, and a “leadership failure” may have led to injuries to police and protesters, high-ranking officers told the city’s police watchdog in newly unsealed memos.
Other top police officials said the department hasn’t prioritized training in years, leading officers into conduct that would never be recommended when dealing with large-scale protests.
The previously confidential documents were introduced as evidence in a landmark excessive force trial underway in federal court, and were provided to The Denver Post on Friday by the ACLU of Colorado, which is representing seven of the plaintiffs in the case.
The lawsuit, brought by a dozen protesters, alleges Denver police officers used excessive force and violated demonstrators’ constitutional rights in response to the large-scale racial justice protests that began May 28, 2020, and continued every night for more than a week.
The trial, according to the ACLU of Colorado, is the first excessive force case in the nation stemming from the Floyd protests to go before a jury.