Aurora police chief fires cop for punching, Tasing man lying prone in grocery store aisle

A screenshot from a body worn camera video of the Aug. 10, 2020, incident in which officer Robert Rosen, who is holstering his Taser, was fired for excessive force. Photo via Aurora Police Department

AURORA | Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson on Thursday fired one of her officers for repeatedly punching and using a Taser on a man suspected of trespassing in a local grocery store last summer.

Wilson fired Officer Robert Rosen for how he handled the arrest of a man inside a King Soopers store at 6412 S. Parker Rd. shortly after 7 a.m. on Aug. 10, 2020, according to a news release.

Aurora Police Department Spokesperson Lt. Chris Amsler said Rosen repeatedly punched the unnamed arrestee in the ribs and deployed his Taser on his lower extremities five times for a total of 27 seconds in a two-minute window.

Rosen was the second officer to arrive at the scene, according to body-worn camera footage of the encounter. The first officer who interacted with the man subdued him in aisle 14 of the store and ordered him to lay prone with his hands under his torso.

The man, who was wearing a backpack emblazoned with unicorns and rainbows, complied.

However, Rosen promptly ordered the man to surrender his hands behind his back, and repeatedly punched him in the ribs when he refused to listen to his commands.

“During the arrest Officer Rosen never attempted any lesser means of force nor did he make any attempts to deescalate the situation in accordance with Aurora Police training,” Amsler wrote in a news release.

Rosen did not activate his body-worn camera at any point during his encounter with the man, Amsler said. The footage police provided was from the first officer who arrived on scene.

An internal panel found Rosen violated a slew of department rules related to activating his body-worn camera, use of force and operating his Taser, according to the department.

“Members of the Aurora Police Department have been working tirelessly to rebuild trust in our community and I want to thank those officers who do it right every day,” Wilson said in a statement. “The actions of Mr. Rosen were in direct contradiction of those efforts. The poor decisions he made that day do not meet the high standards that the community and I expect from my officers.”

The 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office reviewed Rosen’s actions, but declined to pursue any criminal charges, according to Amsler.

The city’s police force hired Rosen in 2017. He was docked 10 hours earlier last year for violating a department rule related to “lawful orders,” according to Amsler.

If he wishes to contest Wilson’s decision, Rosen must file an appeal with the city’s Civil Service Commission in the next 10 days.

Rosen’s firing comes just two days after the city’s civil service commission agreed to uphold Wilson’s decision to fire three other former officers implicated in a photo scandal mocking the death of Elijah McClain.

To mend ties with local residents, Wilson in October launched a new initiative intended to rejigger how local police interact with Aurora residents. City Manager Jim Twombly, too, has orchestrated and complied with multiple internal and external investigations into how the department conducts business.

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Don Black
Don Black
5 months ago

Chief Wilson should look at what her Academy is teaching. I know that they were teaching to knee people repeatedly on the ground when they would not take their hands out from under them.Basically, Rodney King all over again. But, the Chief doesn’t understand the importance of good training and proper supervision to prevent the problems. She simply fires people after having others review incidents. That doesn’t help the officers who are looking for solutions.

5 months ago

What can anyone say except
[email protected]@HOLE……Good riddance.

Doug King
5 months ago

Well the chief is holding true to her word

Dale Nichols
Dale Nichols
5 months ago

I hope Chief Wilson will do more than just “rejigger” the attitudes and behavior of Aurora cops. More like a complete transformation is needed.

Don Black
Don Black
5 months ago

In the past, use of force during a struggle would have been dealt with in a more reasonable manner. Discipline and remedial training would be appropriate for some young officer with no history of excessive force. In today’s environment, there is no room for even the smallest mistake. In some states, the police would not look twice at this use of force as inappropriate for someone struggling with officers. There are several problems with Chief Wilson’s approach. While it is popular with those who don’t understand the many aspects of police work, it is detrimental to police work as a whole. The legislature came up with a police reform bill that established very vague guidelines on use of force. Very poorly written and no one can tell you what they mean. I will be glad to debate that with anyone who believes that the guidelines are clear. The legislature also dictated that any officer guilty of excessive force could no longer be a police officer in Colorado. Talk about a chilling effect. Use of force in police departments have always been a subjective topic. Often, police leaders know nothing about use of force and argue with their own instructors and internal affairs people. So, when a minor use of force is deemed excessive, it is often a subjective decision. There is no room for improvement for the officer. In a career, officers have had to fight with many people who take no responsibility for their own actions. Now, officers are afraid to touch anyone. That means that you don’t stop anyone. So that guy who wants to urinate on the street in front of your children has a free pass. Further, as mentioned previously, Chief Wilson’s own instructor was teaching officers to repeatedly knee someone on the ground who was doing the same thing as this suspect. She should look within her department and what is taught. To just fire everyone sounds good. What it means is that the officers know they have no support in a world where everyone wants to fight and sue. Put that complete lack of support with vague legal guidelines from the legislature and you have a recipe for a police department that does nothing. According to a study, there are at least 500 million serious medical mistakes in this country in a single year. Should we immediately fire all of those medical people? Is there room for correction and training? So, while you are calling the officer an a**hole, you should ask yourself how well you would do fighting with suspects who resist. This trend of excusing the criminals for everything, is destroying the police protection you have. Should the officer be disciplined and remediated? Most probably. I would have to look at the case in detail. I would look strongly at his training. Did the department fail him by not properly teaching him the way to deal with the situation. Training should be proper, adequate, consistent, and regular. Unlike other professions, force is used under stress against another human doing all they can to resist. The basic academy training is not enough.

I would suggest that if Chief Wilson is such a professional and stickler for good police work, she should resign for her very poor performance and leadership during the Elijah McClain rally and the subsequent riots and damage to city properly.