Denver cop with tattoo resembling militia group logo killed tribal citizen in 2015

Officer Michael Truadt says he is not a member of the Three Percenters.

 

Westword, a Denver weekly, is reporting that Denver police officer Michael Truadt, who shot and killed a Rosebud Sioux tribal citizen in 2015, has a tattoo resembling an anti-government militia group logo, the Three Percenters, on the back of his hand.

As High Country News previously reported, local Three Percenter groups operate across the country but do not rely on centralized leadership. The national website for Three Percenters says becoming a member is “more of a way of life, rather than a club to join.” The group’s name comes from a story that only three percent of Americans from the 13 colonies rebelled against the British. Group members similarly sees themselves against federal overreach. According to Westword, Traudt denied being a part of any Three Percent groups but confirmed in a statement to the paper that the same story “is central” to his tattoo.

A tattoo matching the anti-government militia group the Three Percenters is seen here on police officer Michael Truadt’s hand.

There are four different Three Percent groups currently active in Colorado, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a leading civil rights organization that monitors hate groups and anti-government extremism. Nationwide, SPLC identified 689 active anti-government groups in 2017.

Though they reject connotations with white supremacy, racism and violence, armed Three Percenters showed up at the Charlottesville, Virginia rally in 2017 where a white supremacist killed a protester and neo-Nazis marched. They also appeared at the ‘anti-Sharia law’ rally on the capitol steps in Denver 2017, joined the Bundy standoff in Bunkerville, Nevada, in 2014 and the 2016 armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge led by Ammon and Ryan Bundy in Oregon.

In a written statement provided to Westword by the Denver Police Department, Traudt wrote, “I have never been associated with that group, nor do I plan to [be]. I am an American and fully support this country and its free government. I have spent my entire adult life in service to this country and my community.”

In 2015, Truadt shot and killed Rosebud Sioux tribal member Paul Castaway but was never prosecuted or disciplined.

The incident galvanized Denver's Indigenous community and highlighted grim, national statistics that Native Americans were the racial group most likely to be killed by law enforcement. According to data collected by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, Native Americans comprised only 1 percent of the population but made up nearly 2 percent of police killings.

On the day Paul Castaway was killed, Denver police argued that Castaway, who had battled mental illness and addiction, got “dangerously close” to Truadt and his partner with a knife. Only minutes before, Castaway’s mother, Lynn Eagle Feather, had called police for help after an altercation. In 2015 she recounted the incident to Al Jazeera America “I told [the police] that my son was mentally ill. I tell them that every time I call … I just asked for help. Instead they killed my son.” Surveillance video shows Castaway approach the officers holding the knife to his own throat before being shot twice by Truadt.

Westword reports that Truadt remains “in good standing” with the Denver police.

Anna V. Smith is an assistant editor for High Country News. Email her at [email protected] or submit a letter to the editor

Tristan Ahtone is a member of the Kiowa Tribe and associate editor of the High Country News tribal affairs desk. Email him at [email protected] or submit a letter to the editor.  

High Country News Classifieds
  • WYOMING OUTDOOR COUNCIL OFFICE MANAGER - BOOKKEEPER
    The Wyoming Outdoor Council is seeking an office manager-bookkeeper to join our team. The office manager-bookkeeper supports the program and administrative functions of the Wyoming...
  • HEALTHY RIVERS SENIOR STAFF ATTORNEY
    WRA seeks a passionate attorney to join our Healthy Rivers team. The Senior Staff Attorney will research and advocate for wiser water management and updated...
  • CONSERVATIONIST? IRRIGABLE LAND?
    Stellar seed-saving NGO is available to serious partner. Package must include financial support. Details: http://seeds.ojaidigital.net.
  • CONSERVATIONIST? IRRIGABLE LAND?
    Stellar seed-saving NGO is available to serious partner. Package must include financial support. Details: http://seeds.ojaidigital.net.
  • PROGRAM MANAGER
    Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis and will be accepted until: February 03, 2020. Overview Conservation Voters for Idaho (CVI) protects Idaho's environment...
  • WRITING SKILLS TUTOR FOR HIRE!
    Fort Collins, CO college students welcome. Meet on your college campus!
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Colorado Plateau Natural & Human History Field Seminars. Lodge, river, hiking options. Small groups, guest experts.
  • NATURE EDUCATION DIRECTOR
    Our mission is to inspire a life-long connection to nature and community through creative exploration of the outdoors. We are seeking an educational leader who...
  • REALTOR NEEDS A REMOTE ASSISTANT
    This is a business assistant position, The working hours are flexible and you can chose to work from anywhere of your choice, the pay is...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Central Oregon LandWatch is seeking an Executive Director to advance our mission and oversee the development of the organization. Job Description: The Executive Director oversees...
  • WESTERN NATIVE SEED
    Specializing in native seeds and seed mixes for western states.
  • MEDIA DIRECTOR
    Love working with the media? Shine a spotlight on passionate, bold activists fighting for wild lands, endangered species, wild rivers and protecting the climate.
  • STAFF ATTORNEY - NEVADA
    The Center for Biological Diversity is seeking an attorney to expand our litigation portfolio in Nevada. Come join our hard-hitting team as we fight for...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Montana Wildlife Federation seeks an energetic leader to advance our mission, sustain our operations, and grow our grassroots power. For a full position description,...
  • HISTORIC COMMERCIAL OPPORTUNITY IN DOWNTOWN NOGALES
    Nogales. 3 active lower spaces and upper floor with lots of potential. 520-245-9000 [email protected]
  • CHUCK BURR'S CULTUREQUAKE.COM BLOG
    Change will happen when we see a new way of living. Thinking to save the world.
  • COMING TO TUCSON?
    Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • DIRECTOR, TEXAS WATER PROGRAMS
    The National Wildlife Federation seeks a Director to lead our water-related policy and program work in Texas, with a primary focus on NWF's signature Texas...
  • SPLIT CREEK RANCH
    Spectacular country home on 48 acres with Wallowa River running through it! 541-398-1148 www.RubyPeakRealty.com
  • OJO CALIENTE COMMERCIAL VENTURE
    Outstanding location near the world famous Ojo Caliente Mineral Spring Resort. Classic adobe Mercantile complete w/living quarters, separate 6 unit B&B, metal building and spacious...