‘You’re killing me’: Video shows Colorado officer choking suspect for 39 seconds, court docs say

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AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) – Bodycam video called “very disturbing” by Aurora, Colorado police Chief Vanessa Wilson appears to show an officer beating, choking and threatening to kill a man during an arrest. A second officer also faces charges for not stopping her partner, in accordance with a new police accountability law.

The probable cause arrest affidavit was released Tuesday morning by the Arapahoe County Court after an arrest warrant was issued for two Aurora police officers in an on-duty assault case.

“This video will shock your conscience. It is very disturbing,” said Wilson during a press conference Tuesday, during which the bodycam footage was played. “We’re disgusted. We’re angry. This is not police work. We don’t train this.”

According to the documents, Officers John Haubert and Francine Martinez were dispatched at 2:16 p.m. on July 23 to check out reports of someone trespassing.

The suspects accused of trespassing were identified as Kyle Maurice Vinson, 29, Calvin Stevenson, 45, and Anthony Sano, 41, each with an active felony warrant according to the Aurora Police Department

Body camera footage still image from Aurora Police Department probable cause affidavit. (Credit: Aurora Police Department)

Detective Ethan Snow with the Aurora Police Department reviewed the body camera footage for Martinez and Haubert following multiple witness statements that described use of force during Vinson’s arrest.

According to arrest documents, Snow watched Martinez and Haubert talking with three people, later identified as Vinson, Stevenson, and Sano. Vinson, Stevenson, and Sano were on the ground under a tree when Martinez went to a patrol vehicle and appeared to be trying to positively identify Vinson, Stevenson, and Sano, according to arrest documents.

Martinez determined all three suspects had felony warrants and approached them. Martinez tried to place Stevenson in custody by grabbing his left arm. Stevenson pulled away and ran away from Martinez, according to court documents.

Arrest documents state that Sano got up from the ground and also ran away

Snow then stated that Haubert placed his left hand on Vinson’s chest area and pushed him to the ground while he was already in a seated position. Haubert told Vinson to get down, and then he drew his pistol and told Vinson to roll over on his stomach.

Snow said that Haubert told Vinson to roll over again. Vinson held his hands up with his palms facing Haubert.

Snow stated that while watching the body camera footage, Vinson did not show any signs of physical resistance to this point in the interaction.

From there, Martinez and Haubert told Vinson to roll over to his stomach and Vinson complied without the use of physical force, according to Detective Snow.

Snow said Haubert continued to point his gun at Vinson while asking him to put his hands out in front of him several times. Haubert then proceeded to grab the back of Vinson’s neck and point his pistol at Vinson’s head.

Body camera footage still image from Aurora Police Department probable cause affidavit. (Credit: Aurora Police Department)

Vinson complied with Haubert’s orders to place his hands out. Haubert continued to press his pistol into Vinson’s head, even after he complied, according to Snow.

From this point in the arrest, Snow said Martinez grabbed onto Vinson’s arm and hand and attempted to arrest Vinson. However, Vinson pulled his hand and arm away and resisted her attempts to arrest him.

Vinson stated during the confrontation that he did not have an arrest warrant and continued to resist arrest, all while Haubert continued to point his gun at Vinson. Vinson then tried to swat the gun away and Haubert grabbed Vinson’s neck and pressed his thumb on the side of his throat, according to the body camera observance by Snow.

Snow said after that, Haubert continued to tell Vinson to get on his face while striking Vinson on the head four times with his pistol. Snow said that the striking sound could be heard on the body camera footage.

Vinson said, “Okay, okay, I’m trying,” according to Snow. Haubert then struck Vinson in the back of his head twice with his pistol while telling him to get on his face.

Vinson then repeatedly told Officer Haubert, “you’re killing me,” according to Detective Snow.

Snow stated visible injuries and blood could be seen on Vinson’s head at this point in the incident.

The confrontation continued, with Officer Haubert asking Vinson to turn over. Martinez grabbed Vinson’s shirt and told him to get over on his face. Then, Haubert struck Vinson in the chest with his pistol, according to Snow.

Aurora police Officer John Haubert appears to choke a man during an arrest on July 23, 2021. (Credit: Arapahoe County Court)

Snow said Officer Haubert then grabbed Vinson by the neck and forced him to the ground. At this time, Officer Haubert’s body camera was dislodged but Martinez’s body camera recorded Vinson on his back with Haubert’s hand around Vinson’s throat.

While Haubert’s hand was around Vinson’s throat, Snow said he could hear Vinson’s voice squealing in a high pitch, suggesting his throat was being squeezed. Haubert told Vinson, “If you move, I will shoot you”.

Haubert continued to tell Vinson that if he moved, he would shoot him, and according to Snow, Haubert was strangling Vinson at this point.

Detective Snow said he observed Vinson trying to move Haubert’s hands from his neck but it did not appear that he made any life-threatening actions toward the officers.

Haubert continued to choke Vinson, according to Snow. Snow said that Vinson started to lose consciousness and his eyes started to close.

Snow said that Haubert appeared to choke Vinson for approximately 39 seconds before removing his hand from Vinson’s neck and throat.

John Haubert, an Aurora police officer, is charged with multiple counts of assault after an alleged use of force incident. (Credit: Arapahoe County District Court)

Vinson asked Haubert not to shoot him and proceeded to lift his body up. Snow said Haubert then pushed Vinson back down and told him to stop fighting.

Haubert proceeded to say, “Grab my gun again and I will shoot you”, according to Snow.

Vinson managed to get up to his feet. There was a physical struggle between Vinson, Martinez and Haubert, all according to Snow.

Snow said that during the physical struggle, there were no punches, kicks or strikes made by anyone.

At this point, Haubert and Martinez pushed Vinson back to the ground, while Haubert positioned himself on top of Vinson, according to Snow.

At this point, Snow said Brooks and Dieck arrived on scene and Haubert holstered his gun.

Francine Martinez, an Aurora police officer, is charged with failing to report use of force after allegedly witnessing John Haubert, another officer, assault a man during a police response. (Credit: Arapahoe County District Court)

Martinez and Haubert then rolled Vinson onto his side and Dieck deployed his Taser, striking Vinson in his right side, according to Snow.

Snow said Brooks then placed Vinson in cuffs while Vinson stated he could not breathe.

“I need water,” the man cries as the body camera footage comes to an end. The man was hospitalized after he was arrested on suspicion of trespassing.

Vinson was taken to The Medical Center of Aurora for injuries sustained while being taken into custody. He had visible injuries to his head, which consisted of lumps and cuts, according to arrest documents.

Documents state that Vinson’s injuries were a result of Officer Haubert using his pistol to strike Vinson. Officer Martinez was involved in the use of force but there was no knowledge of her using any weapons, according to police documents.

Booking records show Haubert was taken into custody Monday night, and bond was set for $50,000. He posted bond and was released.

Wilson said she moved quickly to put the officers on leave and release the body camera footage to shed light on an incident she said is “anomaly” in a department trying to do better. She apologized to the man who was beaten up.

“This is not the Aurora police department,” Wilson said. “This was criminal.”

Haubert charges:

  • Attempted first-degree assault, Class 4 felony
  • Second-degree assault: strangulation, Class 4 felony
  • Felony menacing, Class 5 felony
  • Official oppression, Class 2 misdemeanor
  • First-degree official misconduct, Class 2 misdemeanor

Martinez charges:

  • Duty to intervene, Class 1 misdemeanor
  • Duty to report use of force by a peace officer, Class 1 misdemeanor

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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