Steve Hendricks stood twice in a week and smoked a cigarette in the same place. He mourned two of his young friends.
The first time was Tuesday at the Romero family’s funeral home when he respected 19-year-old Isaiah Luevano, who had passed away in June. From there, he stepped out of the short, white building on the 4700 block on Tejon Street to smoke and relax, he said.
A friend, Ryan Ronquillo, 20, was sitting in a car a few feet away from him, taking a breather from the service in honor of Luevano, Hendricks said.
In a dive, two police cars and several officers who were exercising Ronquillo car theft arrest warrants crashed into the car. Denver police say Ronquillo was in a stolen car and put it into reverse and hit a policewoman and her car. Two officers behind Ronquillo opened fire. Then Ronquillo stepped forward and officers reopened fire.
Police estimate that 12 shots were fired at the 20-year-old who was unarmed and killed him.
“Traumatizing,” said Hendricks on Sunday evening as he smoked a cigarette in the funeral home parking lot after a vigil for Ronquillo.
About 75 people gathered to pray, release their anger, and seek justice. They stood in the spot on Sunday where they said Ronquillo choked on his blood and died. Parishioners are furious that Denver police served the arrest warrants at a funeral that was made public at the time. Dozens, including children, witnessed Ronquillo’s death.
“I just want to know why you did this to my son,” April Sanchez, Ronquillo’s mother, told the Denver Post, sobbing. “Why did you do this to me?”
Sanchez, flanked by Ronquillo’s cousin and friend, wants justice for her son, who was just days away from his 21st birthday. She said she couldn’t see his body yet.
“I want help,” she said.
Annie Sanchez, Ronquillo’s aunt, says the man’s family have contacted a lawyer and are planning to take legal action against the city. Police Chief Robert White last week expressed his condolences to Ronquillo’s family and the family of another man who was killed by officials during an undercover drug operation just hours before Ronquillo’s death.
“We urge the community to come together and hold the Denver Police Department accountable for what they did,” Sanchez said.
Jesse Paul: 303-954-1733, [email protected] or twitter.com/jesseapaul