The Aurora Police Department in Colorado is under scrutiny following the release of body camera footage showing an officer beating an unarmed Black man with a gun.
Officers John Haubert and Francine Martinez were responding to a trespassing call last week when they encountered three suspects. Two ran, but 29-year-old Kyle Vinson remained seated until Haubert shoved him to the ground.
Video shows Vinson immediately showing his hands, not resisting Haubert’s use of force and repeatedly asking what he did wrong. As he tries to comply with the officers’ requests to roll over and put his hands out in front of him, Haubert puts both a hand and his gun to the back of Vinson’s head.
“I can’t breathe, dude,” Vinson says.
The officers insist they’re taking him in because he has a warrant out for his arrest as Vinson tells them they got the wrong guy, screams for help, and tries to get away from the gun. He is still restrained as Haubert starts hitting him in the head with the weapon until he’s bleeding.
Haubert also tells a crying Vinson, who is unarmed and not threatening them, that if he moves, he will shoot him. Later in the video, the officer is seen choking Vinson on the ground as he continues crying, bleeding, and struggling to breathe.
By the time Vinson got to a hospital, he required six stitches for his head wounds and received treatments for additional bruising.
Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson denounced Haubert’s action as well as Martinez’s failure to stop his violence or report him after the fact.
“We’re disgusted, we’re angry,” she said during a press conference. “This is not police work. We don’t train this. It is not acceptable.” She also called the incident an “anomaly.”
But critics of police brutality, particularly in Colorado, say that this is what’s to be expected from the current state of policing.
An article in the Denver Post praises Wilson’s response to the incident while also calling out the “pattern of behavior in Aurora’s police department,” citing a Black family that was held at gunpoint by officers who stopped the wrong vehicle last year and the 2019 police killing of Elijah McClain, among other disturbing incidents.
While the assault against Vinson never should have happened, in this case, at least, swift action has been taken against the officers involved.
Haubert and Martinez were arrested on Tuesday, with Haubert facing charges of felony assault and menacing as well as misdemeanor charges of official misconduct and official oppression. Martinez is being charged with failing to intervene and failing to report a use of force. Both officers are currently on administrative leave without pay pending an investigation.
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