#BlackLivesMatter: Who Was Alonzo Ashley?

Denver will pay $295,000 to the family of a man who died in 2011 after police officers shocked him with a stun gun at the Denver Zoo.

Denver City Council approved the settlement with Alonzo Ashley’s family at its Monday meeting.

Ashley, 29, struggled with police on July 18, 2011, after witnesses said he claimed to be a lion and tackled and beat a zoo guard before police officers arrived. Ashley also attacked police before they stunned him with a Taser, according to witness reports.

The Denver coroner reported that during the fight Ashley was placed face down on the ground, hands cuffed behind his back and legs crossed and flexed and pressed toward his buttocks. He began convulsing and stopped breathing before paramedics arrived. The coroner ruled the death a homicide, meaning Ashley died at the hands of others.The coroner determined cause of death was cardiorespiratory arrest, possibly brought on by heat, dehydration and the exertion of the struggle. And the autopsy found evidence Ashley used cocaine during the 24 hours before the struggle.

Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey later cleared two Denver Police Department officers of criminal wrongdoing in the case. The Department of Safety’s internal investigation determined eight officers involved in the death did not violate the use of force policy.

Ashley’s death sparked protests by several groups including the Greater Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance, which demanded changes in how public safety is handled in Denver.

*Originally published on Denver Post.

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