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Denver Police Park in place for the disabled at the headquarters of the disability advocacy group

By Matilda Coleman- March 6, 2020 for

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A Denver police vehicle is seen partially in a handicap parking space at the headquarters for the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition on Feb. 24.
A Denver police vehicle is seen partially in a handicap parking space at the headquarters for the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition on Feb. 24.

A Denver police officer parked a partially marked patrol vehicle in a disabled place at the Colorado Disability Coalition headquarters last month, blocking access to a van driven by the coalition’s legal director, who uses a wheelchair.

Legal director Kevin Williams said Thursday that he wanted to draw attention to the incident because he routinely receives complaints about Denver police parking in places for disabled people.

“It’s really turning a middle finger to the disabled community,” he said. “And the irony is that this was in (our) office. And who was blocked? The guy who demands people for violating the (Americans with Disabilities Act). “

Denver police public information officer Doug Schepman said in a statement that the officer who parked the vehicle was responding to a call for a robbery or panic alarm, and said the call is “one of the calls from higher priority that indicates that a person’s life is potentially endangered. ”

Police investigated the parking incident on February 24 after a previous complaint and the officer involved will not face disciplinary action, Schepman said Thursday. The vehicle was moved from the site in minutes, according to the statement.

Josh Winkler, co-chair of the board of directors of the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, saw the Denver police vehicle and took a picture in the Empire Park business plaza around 2:30 p.m. February 24th.

The image shows a Denver police SUV that partially stopped at a clearly marked disabled place and partially in the orange striped area adjacent to the place. The striped area is labeled with a sign that says: “Wheelchair access corridor / Absolutely no parking.”

The SUV was parked on the right side of Williams’ truck, which is specially equipped for Williams to drive. The van has a wheelchair lift on the right side, and it was impossible for Williams to get into his vehicle while the police SUV was parked next to him, he said.  Williams said Thursday he didn’t need to use his truck while the SUV was parked there.

“We don’t know how long he was stationed there, but the law is also very clear,” said Williams. “It is illegal to stop, stand or park in any space that has a sign that specifically states that you cannot park there.”

Williams said that even if the officer was responding to an emergency call, he should have parked in a different place, and said there was a cargo area closer to the door.

“If there was someone dying on the sidewalk immediately adjacent to the three accessible parking spaces and a policeman was there, I will not say that is a problem,” Williams said. “But in this case, there was a loading area where they could have parked.”

In the statement, Schepman apologized for “any difficulty,” caused by the officer’s parking job.

The Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition is a state organization that advocates for people with disabilities. It has hundreds of members, Williams said.

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