Back in November, Juan Ramos exchanged gunfire with three police officers in the Montbello neighborhood. Ramos shot Aurora police officer Erick Ortiz in the face when officers approached him as he left his home, and two Aurora officers and a Denver officer shot back at Ramos and killed him in front of his home. Ramos had shot and killed Antonio Norwood, his ex-girlfriend’s new partner, earlier in the day.
The officers’ actions were found to be justified by Denver District Attorney Beth McCann, but the Montbello community was left with questions about what happened and why. The community was given the opportunity to ask its questions publicly at a town hall meeting Tuesday at the Montbello Recreation Center.
McCann discussed the shooting, gave her analysis of the situation and gave members of the community an opportunity to address their questions and concerns about Ramos’ death at the meeting. She had previously promised to host town hall meetings to discuss officer-involved shootings. This was the first such meeting McCann has hosted since being elected.
Those present at the meeting had questions about what made Ramos’ death justified. Miguel Ceballos lives a block away from where Ramos died, and he currently holds the position of co-deputy 2nd vice chair for the Colorado Democratic Party. Ceballos was particularly skeptical about the vehicle the police used and if Ramos was able to identify the vehicle as a police vehicle.
“I don’t know how he knew these were police officers,” said Ceballos. “What if he thought they were people looking for retribution for the victim?”
Police arrived to Ramos’ residence in a Ford F-150 that wasn’t easily identifiable as a police vehicle.
There were about 15 people at the meeting, but they filled the hour and a half with a steady stream of questions. McCann answered with respect and empathy throughout the meeting.
“The reason they were in an unmarked car is because this was an immediate response. This particular team, as I understand it, uses an unmarked car,” said McCann. McCann also pointed to the fact that the police officers were in easily identifiable police gear.
“I appreciate them coming out here to give an explanation of how it all developed,” Ceballos said afterward.
Ann White currently serves as co-chair of the neighborhood organization, Montbello 20/20. White was particularly concerned about the safety of those who were in the neighborhood at the time of Ramos’ death.
“If I was living in the neighborhood, my concern would’ve been that a bullet could’ve gone through my house,” said White. “The attorney made some good points. He (Ramos) shot first so they obviously returned fire, but that was a danger to that whole community.”
The incident occurred on Nov. 8 when officers responded to a shooting in Delmar Circle. When the officers arrived they found Norwood “lying on the ground and being held by his girlfriend,” according to the DA’s office case summary. Norwood died from numerous bullet wounds. The woman holding Norwood identified Ramos as the shooter and was able to provide his license plate number.
When officers arrived at Ramos’ residence, they found him walking out of his house with a child car seat and bags. Officers then blocked his driveway with a truck in order to prevent him from fleeing the scene. Ramos put the car seat with the baby in his car and left the car door partially open. He then lifted up his shirt and pulled out a handgun. Ramos then proceeded to shoot multiple rounds at the officers’ vehicle. One of the rounds hit Officer Erick Ortiz in the face, but Ortiz survived the incident.
Officers responded to Ramos’ gunfire by shooting and hitting him with 11 bullets. Ramos died in the incident and authorities determined that his gun was involved in Norwood’s death.
“Anytime officers shoot somebody it is a tragedy,” McCann said.