DENVER (AP) — A driver suffered a medical emergency on Wednesday before hitting four Denver police officers on bicycles, injuring one critically, as they monitored a student protest of the Ferguson, Missouri, grand jury decision.
Officer John Adsit was critically injured and underwent surgery, Councilman Albus Brooks said.
The other three officers were treated at a hospital and released. The driver was in stable condition. None of their names were released.
"We do not believe this is an intentional act, and we have no reason to believe it is related to the protests," police Cmdr. Matt Murray said.
Witness Jerald Adams told The Denver Post the officers were on a sidewalk when they were hit by a Mercedes that went on to crash into a restaurant.
"It was horrifying," East High School senior Lily Mogen told the newspaper. "It was a guy driving really fast and going over the curbs."
The officers were among those who had helped escort hundreds of high school students who walked out of class and marched to the state Capitol. The students held signs and chanted, "Hands up! Don't shoot!" as they spread out in downtown Denver.
Officers shut down some streets so students could cross.
Students had been planning to rally for some time but spontaneously decided to head to the Capitol to raise awareness about police abuse, Amarae Moland, a sophomore who helped organize the protest, told The Associated Press.
She was grateful officers escorted them.
"A lot of the students felt bad," Moland said. "We were running through the streets, and the cops were just there to help and ended up getting hurt."
The officers were struck as the protest wound down and students returned to the school.
"I saw one of them, they were trying to get him up and he couldn't really get up," Moland said.
The injured bicycle officers are all veterans of the department and assigned to patrol the downtown pedestrian mall.
Councilman Brooks, whose district includes the mall, said he visited the family of Adsit, who has been on the force for nine years.
The officers "basically allowed these students to enjoy their First Amendment rights," Brooks said. "Something that could have been beautiful turned into a bad situation."
A grand jury's decision not to charge Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown has sparked demonstrations across the country.