A Colorado police officer has been arrested after body-camera footage showed him pistol-whipping, choking and threatening to shoot an unarmed man.
Another Aurora officer who was on the scene has been arrested for failing to intervene or report the use of force.
The incident took place last Friday, after the two police officers were called to the scene of an alleged trespassing, police said in a press conference. There, they found three men who had outstanding warrants out for their arrests. After two of the men fled, they targeted the one remaining, named Kyle Vinson, per footage captured on one of the officers’ body cameras.
The footage shows the officers brutalizing Vinson, who cooperated with officers and repeatedly told them they had the wrong person. One officer, named John Haubert, threatened to shoot Vinson and hit him with a pistol multiple times, leaving him bloodied and bruised.
Vinson can be heard in the video pleading with the officers, crying that he needs water, asking them not to shoot him.
“You’re killing me!” says Vinson, who is bloody after Haubert hit his head with a pistol.
Aurora’s police chief, Vanessa Wilson, announced the arrests at a press conference on Tuesday, saying that she ordered an internal investigation as soon as she saw the body-camera footage. It is possible Vinson, 29, did not know he had a warrant out for his arrest at the time, said Wilson. The warrant was related to an issue of domestic violence.
“As I watched it I felt myself welling up with tears as well as anger,” said Wilson at the press conference, referring to the body-camera footage. “We’re disgusted, we’re angry. This is not police work.”
Haubert was arrested on a number of charges, including attempted first-degree assault and second-degree assault. He has been placed on administrative leave without pay after three years in the Aurora police department, Wilson said. The other officer, Francine Martinez, has been placed on paid administrative leave. Only officers facing felony convictions can have their pay docked, said Wilson.
Both officers are currently out on bond.
“I’m just thankful Mr Vinson is alive,” Wilson said.
The incident comes amid high-profile investigations into the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who went into cardiac arrest after Aurora police officers put him in a chokehold and paramedics injected him with ketamine. McClain died days after. A previous independent investigation from the city of Aurora found that they did not have a legal basis to stop McClain in the first place.
“I hope transparency can make some of you believe we are trying to do the right thing,” said Wilson. She later added, “we are making changes each and every day.”
On Wednesday, an attorney for Vinson said his client remains in custody, even though the officers who have been arrested are out on bond.
“After being struck in the face with a pistol 13 or more times, he has, as you can imagine, sustained likely longstanding injuries,” said Vinson’s attorney, Nicholas Lutz, per KDVR-TV in Colorado. “He is struggling with the fact that while he remains in custody, the officers that did this to him bonded out and are free.”
Read the article in its entirety at theguardian.com