Aurora police release violent body camera footage of altercation between officers, man who died in custody in December

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AURORA | More than six months after a 32-year-old man died in the custody of Aurora police, officials with the local agency have released a nearly 30-minute YouTube video detailing the violent altercation that took place leading up to the man’s death.

Through a series of documentary-style clips, Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz describes in detail the steps a trio of Aurora officers took to apprehend David Baker following a lengthy, hand-to-hand fight at the Willowick Apartments on Dec. 17, 2018.

The 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office determined in March that no officers violated any laws during the incident.

When officers first responded to the apartment complex on East Jewell Avenue, they saw Baker “violently choking another male” inside one of the units, Metz said shortly after the attack. 

Officers then instructed Baker to stop choking the other man, and began repeatedly deploying their Tasers. In total, Baker was hit with a Taser nearly a dozen times. 

“The Taser had absolutely no impact on this man,” Metz said.

The officers continued to brawl with Baker, who was 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weighed about 230 pounds, using punches and batons for approximately seven minutes.

With the help of several other officers who eventually responded to the apartment complex, police were eventually able to restrain Baker using four sets of handcuffs linked together. In the body cam footage, officers discuss using a hobble — a device used to restrain people at the waist and feet — but never actually apply one to Baker’s body, according to Metz.

Baker was declared dead at a local hospital about an hour after he was placed into custody. He died of “restraint asphyxia,” according to the Arapahoe County Coroner’s Office. Despite claims from police that Baker was “on something” during the fight, toxicology reports found only marijuana in Baker’s system. 

Family members of Baker told 9News they have retained a lawyer.

The incident is now being reviewed by the department’s force review board, which is different from the city’s independent review board.

Police released the nearly 30-minute-long production late Monday night after denying multiple open records requests for the body cam footage of Baker’s arrest, including from The Sentinel. Aurora police did not immediately respond to questions about the nature of the production nor the timing of the release.