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Aurora officer facing felony charges in arrest resigns

An Aurora police officer facing assault and felony menacing charges in the arrest of a man shown on body cam footage has resigned.

Aurora police said in a statement that John Haubert submitted his letter of resignation to police Chief Vanessa Wilson Thursday. The internal affairs investigation into Haubert’s actions during the July 23 arrest will continue.

Haubert faces three felony charges — attempted first-degree assault, second-degree assault and felony menacing — as well as misdemeanor charges of official oppression and official misconduct in connection to the arrest.

Although Haubert has resigned, Wilson will still issue a decision on whether he violated department directives and will say what discipline he would have received.

A second officer at the scene, Francine Martinez, faces misdemeanor criminal charges for not intervening in Haubert’s use of force. Martinez, with the department for six years, was placed on paid leave while the internal investigation continues.

Haubert’s attorney, Reid Elkus, has vowed to “zealously defend” him, The Associated Press reported.

The video of last week’s arrest of a man wanted on a warrant out of Denver has once again trained the spotlight on Aurora police officers’ behavior. The video, broadcast on local and national news, shows Haubert choking and hitting a man, who yelled for help and cried “You’re killing me.”

On the video, the man under arrest shows no physical resistance and rolled over as commanded. Haubert grabbed the back of the man’s neck and pressed the muzzle of his gun at the man’s head, according to the affidavits in the arrest of the officers.

Haubert then tried to handcuff the man, climbed on top of him and grabbed the side of the man’s neck, according to the court records. Haubert then struck the man in the head with his gun at least seven times while telling him to lie on his stomach, according to the affidavits.

The encounter began when Haubert and Martinez were dispatched on a report of a person trespassing in the 3100 block of South Parker Road and contacted three people who were sitting on a nearby curb, the affidavits state. After Martinez learned that the three people had felony warrants, the officers tried to take them into custody. Two of the men ran away.

Haubert joined the department in 2018 and worked in patrol. Wilson said in a press conference Tuesday that he has no formal previous disciplinary history with the department.

The Denver Post is not identifying the man arrested by the officers because he is not facing any criminal charges in connection with Friday’s incident. In a statement on the man’s behalf, attorney Qusair Mohamedbhai called Haubert’s resignation “not surprising, although long overdue.”

“His removal from the Aurora Police Department is a step in the right direction. However, much more work is needed to reform the system and culture that allowed his employment in the first place and for this abuse to occur,” Mohamedbhai said.

The officers’ arrests are the latest in a series of high-profile excessive force and criminal charges against Aurora police officers. Wilson has fired at least eight officers for misconduct since taking the department’s top position on Dec. 30, 2019.

The department has been in the national spotlight since the 2019 death of Elijah McClain and a series of scandals that followed. The Colorado attorney general continues to investigate the death of McClain and is also conducting a pattern and practices.

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