AURORA, Colorado — A Colorado police officer has been arrested on felony charges after a video showed him using his pistol to beat a man he was attempting to arrest, choking him and threatening to kill him, and a second officer was also arrested after authorities say she failed to stop her colleague as required by a new police accountability law.
Body camera footage was shown Tuesday at a news conference of the Friday incident that happened in the Denver suburb of Aurora, whose police department has been plagued by numerous police misconduct cases in recent years including the 2018 Ԁᴇɑтһ of Elijah McClain.
The man repeatedly says “You’re ᴋɪʟʟɪпɡ me, bro,” as Aurora police Officer John Haubert holds him down and ѕтгɪᴋᴇѕ һɪᴍ, the video shows.
“If you move, I will ѕһᴏᴏт you,” Haubert says. The officer says repeatedly “Stop fighting,” as the man cries and gasps for air.
Video shows Haubert yelling at the man to roll over on his stomach and show his hands to which the man complies.
“I need water,” the man cries as the body camera footage comes to an end. The man was hospitalized after he was arrested on suspicion of trespassing.Aurora police Chief Vanessa Wilson called the arrest a “very despicable act” at the press conference.
“This video will shock your conscience. It is very disturbing,” said Wilson, who took over the department last year. “We’re disgusted. We’re angry. This is not police work. We don’t train this.”Haubert is under investigation over possible attempted first-degree ɑѕѕɑᴜʟт, second-degree assault and felony menacing in connection with the Friday incident, according to arrest warrant affidavits written by an Aurora police detective and obtained by The Denver Post.
Officer Francine Martinez faces charges over allegedly not intervening to try to stop Haubert’s purported use of force, the documents say. A new Colorado police accountability law requires law enforcement to intervene when they witness abuses of force.
Both officers have turned themselves in. It wasn’t immediately known if they had attorneys.
Haubert and Martinez were dispatched Friday afternoon to investigate a trespassing report. The officers encountered three people who had outstanding felony warrants and tried to arrest them. Two ran way, the documents say.
A still image taken from an officer’s body camera footage and included in the affidavit allegedly shows Haubert choking the man. On the footage, Haubert told a sergeant after the arrest, “I was going to shoot him but I didn’t know if I had a round in it or not,” the documents state. Haubert also said blood on the man was from “pistol-whipping him.”Aurora’s police department has faced numerous abuse allegations
Aurora’s troubled police department has been involved in several abuse-of-force incidents in recent years. The most egregious was the 2018 Ԁᴇɑтһ of McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who ԀɪᴇԀ after being confronted by police responding to a citizen’s call about a “suspicious” person in their neighborhood.
Wilson became the first female to permanently lead the Aurora Police Department when she got the job in August 2020. At the time, the department was looking to regain public trust following a tumultuous year since the death of McClain, whom officers stopped on the street and put into a chokehold.
Wilson, who is white, has 23 years of experience with the Police Department in Colorado’s third-largest city, a diverse community east of Denver. She got the job over three other nationwide finalists — all Black men.
Colorado’s Legislature passed a bill last year that, among other things, requires all officers to use body cameras by July 2023, bans chokeholds, limits ρᴏтᴇптɪɑʟʟʏ ʟᴇтһɑʟ uses of force and removes qualified immunity from police, potentially exposing officers to lawsuits for their actions in use of force cases.
The 2020 law also bars police from using ԀᴇɑԀʟʏ force against suspects they believe are armed unless there is an imminent threat of a weapon being used. It requires officers to intervene when seeing use of excessive force by colleagues and to report such cases to superiors.
Lawmakers strengthened that law this year to, in part, encourage more officers to use their body cameras and promote “de-escalation techniques” in police encounters.
Wilson said she moved quickly to put the officers on leave and release the body camera footage to shed light on an incident she said is “anomaly” in a department trying to do better. She apologized to the man who was beaten up.
“This is not the Aurora police department,” Wilson said. “This was criminal.”