AURORA | An Aurora police officer who threatened to kill an unarmed man while strangling him and repeatedly hitting him in the head with the butt of his pistol during an arrest last week has stepped down from his post.
Aurora Officer John Haubert, 39, submitted a letter of resignation to police chief Vanessa Wilson Thursday afternoon, six days after body camera footage showed him repeatedly pistol-whipping a 29-year-old man who was stopped during a trespassing call and later found to have an outstanding felony warrant for a probation violation in Denver.
On Monday, an Arapahoe County judge signed a warrant seeking Haubert’s arrest for several felony charges, including attempted first-degree assault, second-degree assault and menacing, and a pair of misdemeanors. He turned himself in to the Arapahoe County jail later the same day, paid a $50,000 bond and was released.
The incident began as a trespassing call at about 1:30 p.m. July 23 at 3138 S. Parker Rd. in Aurora, court documents show. Haubert and fellow Officer Francine Martinez stopped three men who were later determined to have felony warrants for their rest.
Two of the men fled on foot as Haubert attempted to take a third man, Kyle Vinson, into custody.
As Haubert attempted to put Vinson into handcuffs, he repeatedly bashed his head with the butt of his gun, causing multiple welts, bruises and a gash that ultimately required six stitches.
At one point, Haubert began to choke Vinson, who repeatedly asked the officer not to shoot him. In the video footage, Vinson can be heard wailing through labored breathing, at one point saying: “You’re killing me.”
Throughout the encounter, Haubert held his pistol against Vinson’s chest and the back of his head multiple times. He later told a police sergeant: “I was going to shoot him but I didn’t know if I had a round in it or not,” according to an arrest affidavit.
On Tuesday, Vinson retained a pair of local civil rights law firms to represent him.
“The harrowing body camera footage of Officers Francine Martinez and John Haubert’s vicious, unprovoked assault illuminates the ongoing issue of police violence, particularly against communities of color,” Attorney Siddhartha Rathod of the firm Rathod Mohamedbhai in Denver wrote in a statement Tuesday. “Mr. Vinson recognizes that many are unable to walk away from police violence and he is grateful that he survived the attack.”
The incident has drawn national scrutiny in the past week, with local politicos condemning the recent episode of brutality and the local police chief imploring residents to maintain civil order despite their ire.
“As angry as you are, I need peace in this city — please,” Wilson said at a press conference on Tuesday.
She has railed against Haubert’s actions and thanked the district attorneys who have helped prepare a speedy case against the former officer.
“This was criminal,” she said of Haubert’s actions.
Haubert had been a patrolman for Aurora police for three years, a department spokesperson said. He had not incurred any departmental discipline prior to last week.
The Associated Press reported yesterday that Haubert’s lawyer, Reid Elkus, has vowed to “zealously defend” him.
In March of 2009, Haubert was accused of DUI, felony menacing and a misdemeanor weapons charge for being drunk with a gun, court records show. He pleaded guilty to the weapons charge in October of that year.
He was sentenced to three months of probation, 24 hours of community service and ordered to pay court fees.
An expedited internal affairs investigation into Vinson’s arrest has been initiated, and the results are expected to be released next week, according to Wilson. Once the report is completed, she will announce what internal discipline would have been handed down if Haubert had not resigned.
Martinez has also been accused of a pair of misdemeanors related to her inaction during Vinson’s arrest. She was arrested earlier this the week on suspicion of failure to intervene and failure to report use of force by an officer. She was required to pay a $1,000 bond to stay free while her criminal case moves through the courts.
She remains on paid leave with the department as the internal affairs investigation moves forward.
Haubert made his initial appearance in Arapahoe County District Court earlier this week, records indicate. He’s due to make another appearance at 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 9.