Denver police officer, Michael Truadt, was the target of a wongful-death lawsuit, shooting and killing a Rosebud Sioux tribal citizen, Paul Castaway, in 2015. It has recently come to light that Truadt has a hand tattoo resembling the logo of an anti-government militia group, the Three Percenters.
Paul Castaway was “a suicidal man who was wielding a knife when the officer fatally shot him.” Truadt says he is neither a member of the 3 Percenters nor anti-government, and insists that he's been planning to cover the tattoo to avoid anyone wrongly assuming that he's affiliated with the group.
Truadt faces no discipline from the department for the tattoo, although records show that Traudt has been asked to conceal it while on duty.
Three Percenter groups operate across the country, but “do not rely on centralized leadership.” The group’s name comes from a story that only three percent of Americans from the 13 colonies rebelled against the British. The national website for Three Percenters says becoming a member is “more of a way of life, rather than a club to join.”
Traudt denied being a part of any Three Percent groups, but confirmed in a statement that the same story “is central” to his tattoo.
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.
Traudt wrote in a written statement: “I have never been associated with that group, nor do I plan to. 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 stimulated the injustice of Native Americans from Denver's Indigenous community, calling upon the 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, had called police for help after an altercation.
In 2015 Castaway’s mother, Lynn Eagle Feather, said, “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, a Denver weekly, reports that Truadt remains “in good standing” with the Denver police.