Police body cam video shows Aurora cop strangling, pistol-whipping trespassing suspect, netting criminal charges for 2 cops

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AURORA |  An Aurora police officer who turned himself in to Arapahoe County deputies Monday night has been accused of strangling, pistol-whipping and repeatedly threatening to shoot an unarmed man in the 3100 block of South Parker Road on July 23, according to court documents released Tuesday morning. 

Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson takes questions from reporters at a press conference July 27, 2021 at Aurora city hall. Wilson pressed for criminal charges to be field against two APD officers after a man accused of trespassing was strangled and pistol-whipped. PHOTO BY PHILIP B. POSTON/Sentinel Colorado

Officer John Haubert, 39, faces charges of attempted first-degree assault, second-degree assault, felony menacing, official oppression and first-degree official misconduct in connection with the arrest of 29-year-old Kyle Vinson at about 2:15 p.m. last Friday, according to an arrest affidavit filed against Haubert.

John Haubert

Images from body camera footage show Haubert repeatedly strike Vinson’s head with the butt of his department-provided gun and squeeze his throat, causing the man to cry, beg for his life and nearly faint, according to the arrest document.

“This is not the Aurora police department,” Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson said at a Tuesday press conference. “This was criminal.”

The incident started as a trespassing call at about 1:30 p.m. at 3138 S. Parker Road, where Haubert and Aurora Police Officer Francine Martinez, 40, detained Vinson and two other men wanted on felony warrants.

As Martinez attempted to place one of the men into handcuffs, he and another man freed themselves and ran away. They successfully fled the scene and remain at large as of Tuesday afternoon.

Haubert then tried to place Vinson into handcuffs, telling the man to roll onto his stomach as he pressed the barrel of his pistol against the back of his head. Vinson initially complied, according to Aurora Police Detective Ethan Snow, who wrote the 15-page affidavit seeking a warrant for Haubert’s arrest.

“Officer Haubert continued to press his duty pistol against Mr. Vinson’s head despite Mr. Vinson’s compliance,” Snow wrote. Vinson then tried to free one of his arms from the arresting officers “while squirming his body.”

Haubert proceeded to get on top of Vinson and struck his head with his gun more than a dozen times, creating multiple gashes around his face and head . Gashes and cuts covered Vinson’s neon green shirt with blood.

As the struggle continued, Haubert put his hands around Vinson’s neck for at least 39 seconds, according to the document. Haubert repeatedly threatened to shoot Vinson and told him to stop resisting, even though Snow determined: “It did not appear that Mr. Vinson had made any attempts to fight Officer Haubert.”

Through labored breathing, Vinson told Haubert “you’re killing me” and repeatedly asked the officer not to shoot him.

Throughout the encounter, Vinson repeatedly tells officers that there is no warrant for his arrest and “you have the wrong guy.”

Police officials have since clarified that Vinson was wanted for felony strangulation in connection with a domestic violence incident in Denver, though he likely didn’t know there was a warrant for his arrest as it may have been tied to a probation violation.

Other officers eventually responded to the scene, and one officer shot Vinson in the leg with a stun gun. He was placed into handcuffs and medically evaluated moments later.

“Mr. Vinson stated over and over again that he can’t breathe,” Snow wrote.

When conversing with other officers who arrived as Vinson was apprehended, Haubert could be heard saying “All that blood on him is from me f****** pistol whipping him … I was wailing the f*** out of him,” according to the affidavit.

Though doctors determined that Vinson did not sustain “serious bodily injury” in the encounter, he sustained multiple cuts and bruises to his neck and face, and he received six stitches for a 2-inch gash on the left side of his head. He also incurred a large welt on his right temple.

Police officials said it was determined Vinson did not sustain a concussion in the incident following CAT scans.

While receiving medical care at the Aurora Municipal Jail, Vinson reportedly asked a nurse for a medication intended to mitigate the effects of opioid withdrawal, according to Snow.

Vinson has retained civil rights lawyers @RMLawyersLLC and Charles Nicholas. RM has represented family members of several people who died following interactions with APD, including Gary Black and Elijah McClain.

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. The other charges were dismissed.

Haubert was sentenced to three months of probation, 24 hours of community service, and ordered to pay court fees in the 2009 case.

Wilson said she was only made aware of Haubert’s previous gun charge Monday morning, but she reiterated that she has no control over the hiring process of basic recruits entering any given police academy. Aurora’s civil service commission has the final say on the hiring and firing of police and fire personnel.

“That is a civil service commission question,” she said.

Wilson said she has started an expedited internal affairs investigation into the incident, the results of which could be made public next week. It is only the second time she has made such an expedited request in her some 18 months as chief, she said.

Wilson cannot impose any departmental discipline on Haubert until the internal affairs process is completed.

Still, she fervently condemned Haubert’s interaction with Vinson last week.

“We’re disgusted,” she said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. “We’re angry. This is not police work … We don’t train this. It’s not acceptable.”

Haubert has not faced any internal discipline for his work conduct since he joined the Aurora Police Department three years ago, according to a department spokesperson.

Haubert turned himself in to the custody of the Arapahoe County Detention Center in Centennial in connection with the July 23 incident Monday night, and he was released shortly after posting a $50,000 bond, according to a spokesperson for the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office. He was due to appear in court at 9:30 a.m. on July 27.

He has been placed on administrative leave without pay pending the outcome of the internal affairs probe, according to Aurora police.

An arrest warrant was also issued for Martinez for the misdemeanor charges of failure to intervene and failure to report use of force by peace officer. 

Her arrest has since been processed and she paid a $1,000 bond to gain her liberty as her court case moves ahead, Wilson confirmed Tuesday.

The only other Colorado court case that lists a 40-year-old Francine Martinez as a defendant was a traffic case in Denver in which she was found guilty of driving an unsafe vehicle in February 2009.

Martinez has been disciplined for her work conduct twice in the past: Once for receiving a written reprimand for how she handled evidence, and a separate incident in which she was suspended for 10 hours for how she conducted a preliminary investigation, according to the department.

Martinez has worked with Aurora police for six years. She has been placed on administrative leave with pay as her case moves forward.

Haubert was stripped of pay because he was charged with a felony; Martinez is able to remain on the city payroll because she has been accused of misdemeanor crimes.

Neither Haubert nor Martinez agreed to speak with Aurora detectives after the incident, citing a desire to consult with their attorneys, according to the affidavit.

It is nearly unprecedented for police to face criminal charges for conduct in the line of duty, especially just days after an incident. Some of the charges appear to point to new police reform laws enacted last year by state lawmakers.

The incident last week marked the sixth time in about one month that an Aurora police officer has struck a resident with a weapon. In June, officers shot a man with a stun gun and a bean bag fired out of a shotgun, piercing his abdomen. Officers then shot at residents, striking at least three people, in four incidents between July 6 and July 20.

Because officers did not deploy a gun when interacting with Vinson, the incident will not be forwarded to a regional investigations team composed of various agencies, Wilson confirmed. All of the other recent incidents are currently being reviewed by the so-called critical response teams in the city’s two judicial districts.

Aurora’s troubled police department has been involved in several abuse-of-force incidents in recent years. The most egregious was the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who died in 2019 after being confronted by police responding to a citizen’s call about a “suspicious” person in their neighborhood.

Wilson became the first female to permanently lead the Aurora Police Department when she got the job in August 2020. At the time, the department was looking to regain public trust following a tumultuous year since the death of McClain, whom officers stopped on the street and put into a now-banned control hold.

Wilson, who is white, has 23 years of experience with the police department in Colorado’s third-largest city, a diverse community east of Denver. She got the job over three other nationwide finalists — all Black men.

Colorado’s Legislature passed a bill last year that, among other things, requires all officers to use body cameras by July 2023, bans chokeholds, limits potentially lethal uses of force and removes qualified immunity from police, potentially exposing officers to lawsuits for their actions in use of force cases.

The 2020 law also bars police from using deadly force against suspects they believe are armed unless there is an imminent threat of a weapon being used. It requires officers to intervene when seeing use of excessive force by colleagues and to report such cases to superiors.

Lawmakers strengthened that law this year, too, in part, to encourage more officers to use their body cameras and promote “de-escalation techniques” in police encounters.

Wilson has touted such techniques since unveiling a multi-pronged plan intended to restore public trust in her department last fall.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Joe Felice
Joe Felice
1 month ago

Like everyone else in society, police officers are on edge and in attack mode. In the good old days, officers were able to rise above their personal misgivings, but not today. This is precisely the type of thing that causes people not to have faith in their police departments.

Robin
Robin
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe Felice

They have always been on attack mode.

John Brownskin
John Brownskin
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe Felice

Just curious about the good old days because there’s never been a day in america where police didn’t abuse or kill black people.

Patrick Dorsey
Patrick Dorsey
1 month ago

I am curious regarding the final fact “Because officers did not deploy a gun when interacting with Vinson, the incident will not be forwarded to a regional investigations team composed of various agencies, Wilson confirmed.” Haubert pistol whipped him and held a gun to his head and said “If you move, I will shoot you.” In what way was a gun not deployed?

Tim
Tim
1 month ago
Reply to  Patrick Dorsey

I think they mean no shots were fired, the gun was not discharged. There are special procedures and protocols that are followed any time a gun is fired by law enforcement, and while the gun was unholstered and used as a “baton”, it wasn’t fired. So those outside agencies that review these things wouldn’t be engaged according to policy.

Chris
Chris
1 month ago

In 2009 this cop was accused of felony menacing DUI and they decide to hire this fat clown wow way to go city of Aurora😜

Dennis Duffy
Dennis Duffy
1 month ago

I think Vanessa is wondering just why she took this job right now. As for the cops, we need them badly but we don’t need bad cops.

john wilson
john wilson
1 month ago

And the latest criminal Colorado millionaire is created…bad leadership created this one!

Robin
Robin
1 month ago
Reply to  john wilson

How is the cop going to be a millionaire?

Bob
Bob
1 month ago

Why is this article trying to make Kyle Vinson look bad by saying he asked a nurse for withdrawal meds? Why expose his private medical information??? Whoever wrote this is a boot licker.

Don Black
Don Black
1 month ago

A trained police officer understands and sees things in the video that the public does not. There are some questionable things in the statements by the detective. The public perception does not take into account much of what a trained officer knows. Nor is the stress and danger felt by the officer. Nor is the lack of training received. Police training in use force is woefully inadequate. Much of that falls directly onto Chief Wilson. Deescalation sounds good when people actually listen and don’t run or struggle. Mr. Vinson did not comply other than briefly allowing the officers to roll him over. Then he continued to resist. The gun is intentionally used to intimidate Vinson, who is a felony suspect as were the other two. It is common practice to order felony suspects into a prone position for handcuffing at gunpoint. When an officer is fighting with someone with his gun in his hand, he only has limited options. When the suspects hands are reaching toward your gun, you have to do something to stop him. I could go on, but I won’t. You should know that just because the suspect was hit with a gun and it looks ugly, doesn’t mean it was criminal. Suspects often say they are not resisting while actually putting up quite a struggle. That is the case here. Anyway, there is more to the story than Chief Wilson’s indignation. She said that the officers deserved due process and then proceeded to doom them with her condemnation. By the way, Chief Wilson knows little about use of force.

John Brownskin
John Brownskin
1 month ago
Reply to  Don Black

Look another hateful trog here to tell you what your eyes can’t see. What would we ever do without these worthless human sh*tstain here to break it down for us.

upptick
upptick
1 month ago
Reply to  John Brownskin

My eyes saw convicted felon — facing new felony charges for a violent assault — getting the crap beat out of him for resisting arrest by a thuggish cop with probably a room temperature IQ. They are meant for each other, in other words….

Cherry
Cherry
1 month ago
Reply to  Don Black

You’re a disgusting Racist pig just like that criminal cop. You remind me of George Floyd’s murderer and his attorney. Always trying to blame the victim for being assaulted. What about Elijah McClain? What did he do wrong to deserve to be murdered by Aurora Police? Oh yeah listening to his music while walking home from the store.

Tim
Tim
1 month ago

A gun should be the very last thing any law enforcement officer touches, and only to protect life. Not to shoot people in the backs as they flee, not to abuse people too stupid to comply with orders, not to threaten or abuse, but only to protect life.

So officer John Haubert was clearly in the wrong on many many levels. He is sadistic and abusive and menacing, a far cry from protecting and serving. Having said that, this absolute moron (Kyle Vinson), who got abused, was also very very very much in the wrong and none of this would have happened had he simply complied and done what he was told. And if he was innocent, that would have been figured out and remedied shortly after he was secured.

Officer John Haubert should not be allowed to be in law enforcement nor should he be allowed to be a parent nor in a relationship, he is an abuser, he needs mental help and anger management and a physical castration might be a good idea… Castrating Kyle Vinson might not be a bad idea either, that guy is as dumb as a bag of rocks and shouldn’t be allowed to breed… When stupid people cross paths, it often leads to very very bad things, and this was one of them.

upptick
upptick
1 month ago

Cops using force in making a felony arrest of a non-compliant suspect who is already on probation — shocking!