That was the beginning of a 16-month ordeal that included a beating by two police officers with a department-issued metal club encased in leather, charges filed against them, a lawsuit by them against the city and finally the emergence of a video that led the city to drop all charges and settle the suit.
The camera was part of the police department's High Activity Location Observation video surveillance system.
The footage shows that police officers Devin Sparks and Randy Murr began dealing with the two buddies by throwing Shawn Johnson to the ground and beating him. Michael DeHerrera, Johnson's friend, was on the phone, asking for advice from his father, a sheriff's deputy. Right after DeHerrera was asked to get off the phone, he was hit in the face more than once and knocked to the ground by one of the officers.
DeHerrera said he didn't remember anything after he was thrown to the ground. He blacked out and woke up with bruises, stitches, a swollen head and chipped teeth.
He hopes settling the suit will lead to the firing of the two officers. Denver Citizen Oversight Board members also want the officers to lose their jobs because of the attack. But the department defends them.
"I saw nothing that proved excessive force," said Ron Perea, Denver's manager of safety. He added that the video is only part of the story, saying the video missed DeHerrera and Johnson "shoving" police officers.
DeHerrera denies using any physical force on the officers. "I have respect for law enforcement, pretty much because of my dad," he told ABC's "Good Morning America."
Johnson and DeHerrera initially were charged with interference and resisting arrest, but the charges were dropped and the lawsuit was settled for $17,500, according to "Good Morning America."
Other than a three-day suspension without pay for both officers, Denver has allowed Sparks and Murr to keep their jobs. But the city's independent police watchdog, Richard Rosenthal, who is with the Office of the Independent Monitor, doesn't like that.
"Writing the report the way it was written, under penalty of perjury," he said, "was absolutely inappropriate and should've resulted in the officers' termination."