The Denver Police Department is investigating an incident from last week that was caught on video and has gone viral showing officers spraying pepper balls at a man who is screaming that he has a pregnant woman in his car.
Videos of the incident, which happened early Saturday morning, shared on Twitter and YouTube shows the man getting out of his stopped car to yell at officers: "You shot up a car with a pregnant woman in it, with f--king tear gas." It's unclear what happened before the driver stopped his car.
But then, as the driver in the video continues to inform the officers that there is a pregnant woman in the passenger seat, they spray a barrage of projectiles at the man and the car. The man is outside of the car on the driver's side, and the passenger's side, where a woman is sitting, is closest to the officers. The man eventually gets back in his car and drives away.
“Honestly, I thought I was going to die. I thought I was going to be the next black man shot by police,” the man, Shaiitarrio Brown, told NBC affiliate KUSA.
He said the incident happened early Saturday morning during protests in Denver over the death of George Floyd. But Brown and his pregnant fiancée weren't protesting. They were making food deliveries.
Brown said he began yelling at police when his car was hit by a pepper ball round.
“We’re not protestors, we are not part of the riots," Brown said. "We were delivering food. We were working. For them to just go out of their way to shoot innocent people was unfair. And then I proceeded to tell them that there’s a pregnant woman in the car, and that’s when they unloaded 50 to 75-plus rounds into my car with my pregnant girlfriend in it."
Brittany King, Brown's fiancée, who is 18 weeks pregnant, was hit in the abdomen with at least three pepper ball rounds, according to the couple's attorney, Scott Melin. When she got to the hospital, her fetus had a high heart rate and she is still suffering from cramps, difficulty breathing and difficulty eating, Melin said Friday afternoon.
She also suffered a broken bone in her hand from when she tried to block her face, Melin said.
"These pepper balls are no joke," he added.
Brown has a laceration on his face and bruises on his body. Melin said Brown got out of his car to yell at the officers because they fired a round at the couple even though there was not yet a curfew in effect on Friday night into Saturday morning, and the pair was not protesting or rioting.
"They were driving for DoorDash," Melin said. The initial round was an "unprovoked attack."
Melin wants to reach a settlement with the Denver Police Department for monetary damages and a commitment from the department to institute reforms. But barring an agreement, Melin said he will file a civil suit.
The Denver Police Department said in a statement "DPD is aware of the incident and an investigation into the matter is ongoing."
While the people in the video have been identified, the department said, they had not yet come forward or filed a complaint, so department Chief Paul Pazen is listed as the complainant in the case.
Earlier this week, Pazen had launched an investigation into an officer who posted a picture to Instagram of him and two other officers posing in riot gear, with the caption "Let's start a riot."
The officer, Thomas McClay, was fired, the department announced Tuesday.