Cherry Creek lawyer Michael Andre defended Denver's dark side, until he succumbed to his own.
Sometimes the spotlight found him. In 2004, Andre was the court-appointed defender of Frank Lobato, a disabled, elderly drug addict facing a probation violation. Andre got Lobato a rehab stint instead of prison, but when Lobato reported to the probation office, he was turned away because his officer wasn't there. Twelve days later, police—looking for Lobato's nephew—busted through his bedroom door and, mistaking a soda can in his hand for a gun, shot him dead. It was the second time in a year that the Denver police had killed a disabled person—in 2003, two officers shot a knife-wielding, mentally handicapped teen named Paul Childs.
Andre was furious. In his view, a police commando assault on his client resulted in the death of a poor, sick man. He told The Denver Post, "[Lobato] was weak. He was quite frail. When we were in court last, he was pleading for help. The idea of him making a sudden movement is just incredible." Further stoking community outrage, the shooting officer, Ranjan Ford Jr., only received a 90-day suspension—later lowered to 50 days—for accidentally discharging his firearm. After those two cases, the City Council created an independent police monitor and a citizen oversight board to review cases of possible police misconduct. It was too late for Lobato, but hopefully someone else would be saved from the rash actions of the police. Andre, the drum major of the disenfranchised, continued his march.
More than two years later, a young man named Willie Clark arrived at Andre's office. Clark was wanted by the DPD as a "person of interest" in the New Year's shooting of Denver Bronco Darrent Williams, and he wanted to surrender peacefully to police. Clark was not charged with the Williams shooting; he ended up getting six months for violating his probation. After Clark was first arrested, ESPN interviewed Andre. A huge sports fan, he was ecstatic. He later called his father, Louis, and told him, "Well, I can die and go to heaven. I've been on ESPN."
Friday, 1:30 p.m.
By this time, police had been waiting out Andre for nearly four hours. They had evacuated a two-block radius around Andre's house; only police were allowed inside the perimeter. Marie was parked down the street at the command center. The police told her that if she tried to call Andre, he'd be more likely to kill himself.