Two Aurora police officers are facing criminal charges stemming from a violent arrest caught on camera last week, during which one officer pistol-whipped and choked a sobbing and pleading Black man while repeatedly threatening to shoot him as the other stood by.
Officers John Haubert and Francine Martinez were booked into jail in connection with the July 23 arrest, and have since been bonded out. 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.
Martinez, 40, faces two misdemeanor charges for failure to report use of force and failure to intervene during Haubert’s misconduct. Haubert is on unpaid leave while Martinez is on paid leave because her charges are misdemeanors, according to the Colorado Sentinel.
Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson spoke at a Tuesday press conference and called the officers’ actions “criminal,” saying, “This is not the Aurora Police Department.” Wilson said the officers’ conduct is not aligned with what the department trains.
“This is not police work. This is not police work. We don’t train this, this is not acceptable,” she said.
Footage of the arrest was played during the press conference, and Wilson issued a warning about the contents.
“The video will strike your conscience,” she said. “I know as I watched it I felt myself welling up with tears as well as anger.”
At around 1:30 p.m. on July 23, a trespassing call was made and the officers responded to S. Parker Road, where they detained Vinson and two other men for outstanding felony warrants. While Martinez tried to put one of the men in handcuffs, he and another man ran away, but Vinson remained seated on the ground.
Haubert then tried to put Vinson in handcuffs and told him to roll onto his stomach while pressing the muzzle of a pistol to his head and threatening to shoot him.
“Roll over on your face, roll over on your stomach,” Haubert said, while Vinson kept his hands raised, asking what he’d done. Vinson rolled over and Haubert continued to hold him at gunpoint while instructing him to put his hands out in front of him.
Vinson initially complied, according to Detective Ethan Snow, who wrote the 15-page affidavit seeking a warrant for Haubert’s arrest. After officers told Vinson he had a warrant, Vinson said they had the wrong guy and that he did not have a warrant.
“Help! I don’t have a warrant, bro,” he said. Haubert then struck Vinson repeatedly with the pistol, instructing him to roll back over. Vinson suffered 13 blows to the head in total.
“You’re killing me! You’re killing me, bro!” Vinson said, as blood ran down his face.
“If you move I will shoot you,” Haubert told Vinson twice as he continued to cry out. Haubert wrapped his hand around Vinson’s neck for at least 39 seconds. According to Snow, “It did not appear that Mr. Vinson had made any attempts to fight Officer Haubert.”
Through labored breathing, Vinson begged Haubert not to shoot him. When another officer arrived, a taser was deployed on Vinson and he was successfully placed into handcuffs.
Vinson was wanted for felony strangulation in connection with a domestic violence incident in Denver, although police say he may not have been aware of the warrant since it may have been connected to a probation violation.
According to the affidavit, Haubert told other officers at the scene. “All that blood on him is from me f-cking pistol whipping him. … I was whaling the f-ck out of him.”
Vinson sustained several cuts and bruises to his face and neck, including a two-inch long gash to his face that required six stitches. A large welt could be seen forming on Vinson’s temple during the beating. A CT scan determined Vinson did not sustain a concussion.
“Those are just the physical injuries of Mr. Vinson,” Chief Wilson said. “I can only imagine how he’s feeling … I’m just grateful Mr. Vinson is alive.”
The law firms of Rathod | Mohamedbhai LLC and the Law Office of Charles A. Nicholas, P.C. released a statement on behalf of Vinson:
“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. Mr. Vinson recognizes that many are unable to walk away from police violence and he is grateful that he survived the attack. Mr. Vinson appreciates the support he has received from the community.”
In 2009 Haubert was accused of DUI, felony menacing and a misdemeanor weapons charge for being drunk with a gun. He pleaded guilty to the weapons charge in October of that year and the other charges were dismissed. He was sentenced to three months of probation, 24 hours of community service, and required to pay court fees.