Piecing Together the Denver Shooting: A Story of Image Order

A Narrative Analysis

Yesterday afternoon, a rally attendee was shot and killed during an altercation with a private security guard. Although there was video of another dispute just prior to the confrontation, the publicly available direct documentation of the shooting is a set of still images captured by the Denver Post.

But here’s the rub:

There are 17 images of this altercation on the Getty Images page. And they are in no particular order.

Depending on the way you order the pictures, you can tell two completely different stories about what happened.

To the left, a private security guard defended himself against a fascist armed with bear mace:

  1. He approaches the guard.

  2. He hits the guard.

  3. He sprays the guard.

  4. The guard shoots him.

An agitated right-winger aggressively approached, assaulted, and bear-sprayed an armed guard, who then had no had no choice but to defend himself.

To the right, a trigger-happy leftist guard assaulted and then murdered an innocent citizen:

  1. The guard grabs him, so he slaps the guard away.

  2. He retreats backwards as the guard starts to draw his pistol.

  3. He sprays the guard.

  4. The guard shoots him.

An armed guard grabs and assaults a citizen, who pushes him away and begins to retreat. As he retreats, the guard draws his pistol and points at the citizen, who uses a non-lethal spray in self-defense. The guard shoots the citizen in the head.

And here’s a graphic that’s been making the rounds on 4chan:



Why does this matter?

Self-defense claims hang on who was the aggressor. And moreover, there are huge implications for lethal self-defense if the person shot was retreating or pursuing. 

But beyond legal concerns, pursuit, retreat, and who was the aggressor are key elements of the political narratives that emerge. That’s why in these kinds of stories, it’s eminently important that we take great care in figuring out who did what first.


What’s the correct order?

I have no idea.

Presumably, these images have metadata that include the exact time they were captured. Unfortunately, this information is not on the site nor on the downloads I made. 

But feel free to look for yourself. Figuring this out would get us closer to the objective account of what occurred.

In addition, Denver PD says (at about 2:35) that there’s CCTV video that captures the altercation. But it remains to be seen whether this yet-released footage will clarify or exacerbate these diverging narratives.


What else?

Outside of this, some on the right amplified a narrative that the guard had connections to Antifa (although following some statements by Denver PD, that narrative seems to have died down).

On the left, many are emphasizing the right’s mischaracterization of this guard as a leftist.

Both, however, are talking about how the other side are hypocrites by comparing this event to the Kyle Rittenhouse event—where an armed individual either defended himself against assault from rioters or murdered peaceful protestors in cold blood.

That’s all for now.

Share


Sources:

CO: Demonstrator Shot and Killed in Denver Dueling Rallies - Getty Images