The family of Alonzo Ashley, 29, held a candlelight vigil outside the zoo entrance on Wednesday night.
On July 18, 2011, police and zoo security surrounded Ashley after he made several irrational comments, attacked a security guard and threw around trash cans
Zoo security was forced to call police to report a domestic violence incident because the man was shouting, thrashing about and his girlfriend appeared frightened, zoo officials said.
Ashley’s girlfriend confirmed he was upset and offering to fight zoo security officers, but she also told 7NEWS that Ashley appeared to be suffering from heat distress on a hot day. She said he was trying to cool off his head under a drinking fountain when a security guard told him to stop.
When police arrived, they used a Taser on Ashley, who later died.
“Not only did my brother die and got killed last year, also a piece of me got killed last year,” said Ashley’s brother Lendell Ashley.
The coroner found marijuana in Alonzo Ashley’s system and determined he had used cocaine at least one day before his death.
Ashley’s family is now suing the city and county of Denver and the Denver Zoo, along with more than two dozen police officers and zoo employees.
The lawsuit includes claims of wrongful death, excessive and deadly force and inadequate policies and training.
“This whole time, they never said they need to change their training. They said everything the officers did was right,” said Lendell Ashley. “There will be no settlement. There is no amount of money that can take my brother’s place, so that’s not going to happen.”
“You want this in court?” asked 7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger.
“It’s going to go in court, yes,” said Lendell Ashley.
Denver city attorney Douglas Friednash provided 7NEWS the following statement Wednesday night:
“We extend our continued sympathies to Alonzo Ashley’s family and loved ones on the anniversary of his death. We understand that Mr. Ashley’s estate has filed a lawsuit against the city, the Denver Zoo and 21 Zoo officials and police officers. The City stands firm that the Zoo and its officials, the city of Denver and police officers acted entirely appropriately in responding to the situation.”