Denver police canceled a meeting that was scheduled for last week between the police chief and a Black man who was handcuffed last month after officers pointed a gun at children who were in his care.
Naphtali Israel and his lawyer had planned to meet with Chief Paul M. Pazen last Thursday at the request of Denver police after the May 7 case gained attention in the wake of the George Floyd protests.
But the meeting set for last Thursday was canceled. Police did not give a full explanation but requested that they meet with Israel privately after plans were made to involve the NAACP, Israel said in an interview Monday.
Police in the incident last month responded to a 911 call from a supermarket manager saying there was a Black man in a car with a gun in the supermarket parking lot.
Arriving officers went to a car matching the make described to them and security footage released by Israel’s attorney shows a white sergeant point his gun for about 15 seconds at Israel’s fiancee’s three Black children in the car.
Israel had been shopping inside and was handcuffed briefly when he came outside to see what was happening. He was then released, the footage showed.
Police confirmed that Thursday’s meeting was canceled and has not been rescheduled. They have not said why the Denver chief wanted to meet privately with Israel.
Representatives of the NAACP and parents from a school that one of Israel’s finacee’s children attends had planned to march to the office of Israel’s lawyer, where the meeting had been scheduled to take place. Israel said that the prospect of that publicity could have prompted the meeting’s cancellation of the meeting.
Sondra Young, president of the NAACP’s Denver chapter, said her organization became involved after Denver school officials said a 7-year-old girl in the car suffered trauma because of the gun pointed at her.
“That’s when we got involved with it because we know how trauma impacts our children and learning and in education,” Young said.
Also in the car were the 2-year-old and 14-year-old.
The teen and 7-year-old are in therapy for treatment of trauma, Israel said.
Nieberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.
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