Denver judge dismisses case against masked marcher who knew his rights

DENVER, COLORADO – US veteran cryptologist Jordan McDuffie was detained after last year’s Million Mask March and charged with two counts, Obstruction and Pedestrian-in-the-roadway, for stepping unto Lincoln Avenue west of the capitol steps when DPD says the Anon- masked protester they believe to have been Jordan ought not have. Before his May 24 jury trial could begin and after offering increasingly favorable plea deals, the city motioned to dismiss the charges.

Jordan, age 26, is a recently discharged vet. He was arrested at the march held every year in Denver on Guy Fawkes Day, Nov5. On November 5, 2016, after meandering about Denver’s pedestrian mall, keeping to the sidewalk as small demonstrations are wont to do, about ten masked protesters stood on northbound Lincoln for less than a minute until cops arrived and the protesters left the street. One masked standee, not Jordan, was chased by officers up and down Capitol Hill but no contact or arrest was made. That marked the end of the otherwise uneventful, nonviolent 2016 march.

An hour later, after a calm rally of speeches and singing, when everyone had left, Jordan and two vet friends were walking to their car and were jumped by Metro SWAT. Jordan and friends were pushed to the ground by approx twelve officers. One friend had his phone knocked out of his hands as he tried to video Jordan’s arrest. Jordan cried out that the officers were injuring his war wound for which he was discharged but the brutalization continued.

Two blocks away another participant, African American Kris Randolph, 32, was similarly arrested, in front of his mom. Both he and Jordan were jailed overnight. Without being told he didn’t have to, Kris gave a videotaped interview while in detention. The two were released the next day on $100 PR bonds.

Kris and Jordan were given Colorado state case numbers (16M10457 & 16M10458) which were transferred sixty days later to municipal cases (17GS000146 & 17GS000195), no reason given, except their 90-day speedy trial clocks started only thereafter. Both were assigned to Division 3H with Judge Kerri Lombardi.

Kris, a roofer, father of four, with a minor criminal record, qualified for a public defender. Kris kept a number of court dates but eventually FTA’d at an April disposition hearing. Hopefully Kris can get back on track in view of how Jordan was able to resolve his case.

Jordan represented himself Pro Se through several hearings. Right from the start Jordan submitted multiple motions, one asserting his First Amendment right to assemble in the street etc, another demanding expanded discovery to include the DPD “After Action Report” (AAR) for Nov 5, 2016. An AAR erroneously disclosed in a previous case revealed that 27 undercover officers had been deployed at the 73-attendee 2015 Million Mask March. Judge Lombardi did not agree with Jordan’s assertion that he didn’t need a permit to be in the street, but granted his discovery request. She commanded the city lawyers to inquire about an AAR.

At a March hearing, prosecutors produced an AAR, but it was incomplete, missing the “Staffing detail” pages. The added pages were referenced because there were insufficient lines on the AAR form, but not provided. Jordan complained to the judge that he was seeking a list of all the officers who were on the scene of his alleged offense, including “Shadow Teams” if any, to know whose reports he was entitled to see. Jordan explained that he was not fishing for confidential information, he would be satisfied with the judge performing an In Camera review, so long as he could be assured that the city was discovering all the witness testimony evidence, ie. “Brady Material” relevant to his case. The prosecuting attorney assured the judge that there was no more information to provide.

At the May 8 trial date, the prosecutors declared ready, but pulling him aside in the hall they pushed hard for Jordan to take a plea. They offered Jordan one year probation with deferred sentence, then six months probation, then six months without even having to make a plea. Jordan refused.

After Jordan refused their offers, the city announced it was not ready. They motioned for a continuance because the HALO-cam operator they needed to call as their key witness was suddenly not available that day. Indeed all the probable cause statements cite HALO footage as being the evidence against Jordan and so the city explained they needed the camera operator to testify. A continuance was granted.

One day before his May 24 trial date, Jordan received a notice from the prosecution, seeking to endorse a new witness. Detective Michael Timmerman, badge # P00086, was supposed to be an eyewitness to Jordan’s alleged offense. Not knowing how to properly object, Jordan drafted three motions: 1) to exclude the witness based on the untimely endorsement; 2) to dismiss the charges based on the implication that the state might be withholding evidence of other witnesses whose testimonies could exhonorate him; and 3) to show cause why the city and DPD weren’t in contempt of the court’s order to produce exactly this kind of evidence when asked.

Of course the Timmerman development was a win/win. His being allowed to testify would create grounds to appeal, and his taking the stand would mean being able to ask him under oath about the other Shadow Teams present and what were they assigned to do. Were they, for example, walking into the street, trying to get authentic participants into trouble? Who knows what they were doing and how they planned to differentiate masked offenders from innocents.

Judge Lombardi avoided ruling on Jordan’s three motions by instead deciding not to allow the city to endorse witness Timmerman. Lombardi argued that her continuance had only been granted to allow the HALO operator a second trial date at which to appear.

The city argued that since the last trial date and after closer inspection, the HALO footage was deemed too grainy and inconclusive. The prosecutor even walked up and played it on his laptop for the judge. The city argued they no longer believed that their operator’s testimony would lead to a conviction. The city explained that after much back and forth communication with DPD in the interim, at the eleventh hour, the police agreed to reveal the identity of one of their shadow officers to testify against Jordan, such was the importance to the DPD of pursuing Jordan’s conviction. Without Detective Timmerman as a witness the city said it would not be able to proceed to trial.

Judge Lombardi declined the city’s endorsement, the city motioned to dismiss, and defendant McDuffie was thanked by the judge for his always polite and respectful decorum.

NOW when Kris proceeds with his case, there will be another chance to bring the elusive Detective Timmerman to the stand. What can a DPD shadow officer reveal to everyone under oath?


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Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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