A Colorado police officer has been arrested after the video showed him using his gun to hit a man he was trying to take into custody, strangling him and threatening to kill him, police said Tuesday. Another officer was accused of not stopping his colleague as required by a new police law passed during protests against racial justice last year.
In a violent and disturbing body-worn camera clip released Tuesday by the Aurora Police Department, Officer John Haubert is seen gun-whipping and strangling the man.
“We are disgusted. We are angry. This is not the job of the police,” Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson said Tuesday at a news conference announcing the charges. “We are not training this. It is not acceptable.”
Haubert was charged with attempted first-degree assault, second-degree assault, repression, criminal intimidation and first-degree official misdemeanor, police said. He issued bail and was released after returning on Monday.
Officer Francine Martinez is accused of not intervening and reporting the use of force by a peace officer.
Police Public Information Officer Chris Amsler said Martinez turned to Glendale, Colorado, the police department, on Tuesday morning, issued a $ 1,000 bond and was released.
Attempts to reach Haubert by phone numbers listed in public records possibly linked to him were unsuccessful Tuesday night. His lawyer, Reid Elkus, said he could not comment because it is early in the case. He said: “We will zealously defend Officer Haubert.”
Attempts to reach Martinez on phone numbers listed in public records possibly linked to her were unsuccessful Tuesday night. It was not clear if she has a lawyer.
Haubert and Martinez were sent to investigate an offense report on Thursday when they encountered three people who had outstanding offenses and tried to arrest them, according to official documents. Two ran away and have not been arrested, Wilson said.
The victim, Kyle Vinson, did not suffer serious injury in the incident but was taken to a hospital for hands and a cut on the head that required six stitches, police said. Authorities did not say whether he will be charged with an outstanding probation violation.
“We do not believe he knew he actually had an existing power,” Wilson said.
Haubert used his “duty pistol to hit Mr. Vinson,” he declared, and Martinez was “involved in the use of force, but there was no knowledge that she was using weapons.”
“It does not appear that … Mr. Vinson had used any force against Officer Haubert or Officer Martinez,” an investigating officer wrote in the statement, adding that “Mr. Vinson complied with Officer Officer Haubert’s orders.”
During the attempted arrest, Haubert “pressed” the nose of the gun “into Vinson’s head and right neck area before whipping him several times, the statement said.
In the video, blood can be seen running down Vinson’s face as he shouts and tells the officer “you’re killing me” and tries to swing the gun away from his face.
Haubert’s body camera was “loosened along the way” by the officer, who grabbed Vinson “around the neck” and forced him “backwards to the ground”, the statement said.
“If you’re moving, I’ll shoot you,” Haubert can be heard saying in the video as he begins to press his hands around Vinson’s neck.
“Mr. Vinson appeared to be losing consciousness. His mouth was open and his eyes were beginning to close,” the investigating officer wrote in the statement,
About 39 seconds later, Haubert began “removing his hand from Mr. Vinson’s neck / neck area,” and another fight ensued in which the investigator said authorities “did not observe any blows, kicks or strikes from anyone.”
Vinson was thrown back to the ground by Haubert and Martinez, and another arriving officer used a Taser on the man, who was then eventually handcuffed.
“I did not even run,” Vinson said as he “made a strained moaning sound,” the statement said.
The Aurora Police Association did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday night.
Last year, the Colorado attorney general began an investigation into whether the Aurora Police Department allows “patterns and practices … that could deprive individuals of their constitutional rights,” after Elijah McClain, a young black man, died in officer custody.
Officers on August 24, 2019 placed him in a chokehold and paramedics injected him with a large dose of ketamine, a powerful sedative. McClain, 23, died days later.
A year later, police pulled further checks after a viral video showed officers with guns pulled at a group of black women and girls who had been ordered to lie face down in a parking lot while some of them were handcuffed. The group shouted and screamed while a young girl shouted, “I want my mother!”
Officers had stopped their car in the belief that it had been stolen because it shared the number of a stolen motorcycle, a spokeswoman for police said. But after finding that the car had not been stolen, police “handcuffed everyone involved, made an effort to explain what happened and apologized,” officials said.
Last year, Colorado lawmakers passed a bill that requires, among other things, all officers to use body cameras by July 2023, bans chokeholds, restricts potentially lethal use of force, and removes qualified immunity from the police, potentially subjecting officers to trial for their actions in use of coercive cases.
The law also requires officers to intervene when they see colleagues using excessive force and reporting it to superiors.
Legislators strengthened the law this year to encourage more officers to use their body cameras and promote “peeling techniques” in police meetings.