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Aurora officer facing assault charges resigns

Officer John Haubert is accused of strangling the man and striking him numerous times with his weapon, an affidavit for his arrest says.

AURORA, Colo. — Aurora Police Department (APD) said an officer resigned after affidavits say he strangled a man for more than 30 seconds while attempting to take him into custody last week.

APD released body camera footage of the incident during a news conference Tuesday afternoon that shows that Officer John Haubert had his hands around the man's throat for 39 seconds until the man appeared to begin to lose consciousness.

"What you are going to see is going to anger you, it may even bring you to tears," APD Chief Vanessa Wilson said before showing the video. "I know that I felt myself welling up with tears as well as anger."

Wilson said Tuesday that the man was not armed. 

Video also shows him striking the suspect various times on the head with his duty-weapon, according to the affidavit. When asked whose blood was on his weapon, Haubert was heard saying in body camera footage, "Should be his [the suspect's], all that blood on him is from me [expletive] pistol whipping him."

Arrest warrants were issued Monday afternoon for Haubert and Officer Francine Martinez in connection to the use-of-force incident that happened after the pair responded to a trespassing call on July 23 in the 3100 block of South Parker Road. That's near the intersection of East Dartmouth Avenue and South Parker Road.

>Video below: Here's the full press conference from July 27, 2021.

According to the police report, the arrest warrant issued for Haubert includes the following charges:

  • Attempted first-degree assault
  • Second-degree assault 
  • Felony menacing
  • Official oppression
  • First-degree official misconduct
Credit: Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office

Haubert turned himself in Monday evening at the Arapahoe County jail. He was booked in, posted bond and was released, according to the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office. 

"We're disgusted, we're angry, this is not police work," Wilson said. "We don't train this. This is not acceptable."

While responding to the call, the officers encountered Kyle Vinson, who had an active warrant out for his arrest, the affidavit says. Wilson said she believed that at the time of the incident Vinson was unaware of the warrant. Court records show that it was issued on June 8 of this year after he failed to comply with the conditions of a deferred judgment that was granted in April 2019 for a prior domestic violence incident. 

According to the affidavit, Vinson suffered serious injuries while being taken into custody by Haubert. The injuries included:

  • Bruise and cut on forehead
  • Right eye was half swollen shut and bruised
  • Cut on top of the head that required five stitches
  • Bruising on chest area

According to the affidavit, some of the head injuries were the result of Haubert using his duty pistol to strike Vinson.

Body camera footage from Haubert and Martinez shows the officers approaching several people, including Vinson. Two of the three people ran when the officers approached to take them into custody. Vinson did not, according to the affidavit.

Haubert immediately placed his left hand on Vinson's chest and pushed him to the ground, drew his weapon and ordered Vinson to roll onto his stomach. Vinson's hands were up with his palms facing Haubert, the affidavit says.

Up to this point in the video, there were no signs that Vinson had resisted, the affidavit says. Vinson complied and rolled over to his stomach, without physical force being applied, the document states.

Haubert gave commands several times for Vinson to place his hands in front of him while on the ground and then "grabbed onto Mr. Vinson's neck and pointed his duty pistol at Mr. Vinson's head," the affidavit says.

Credit: APD
A still from body camera footage shows a gun being pressed to a man's head during an arrest by an APD officer.

He then pushed Vinson's head into the ground while pressing the muzzle of his gun to the back of his head, according to the affidavit.

"It does not appear from the body camera footage video that Vinson had used any force," against either of the responding officers, the affidavit says.

Haubert continued pressing his weapons against Vinson's head, despite his compliance with commands, according to the affidavit.

When Martinez came over to attempt to place Vinson in handcuffs, the affidavit says that Vinton began to resist and that Haubert placed his gun into Vinson's right neck area from a "mounted position" on top of Vinson's waist area.

From this position, the affidavit says, Haubert ordered Vinson to "get on his face" and "began to strike Mr. Vinson on the head with his duty pistol." It appears from the video he was struck four times.

After he was hit, the affidavit says, Vinson, stated, "OK, OK, I'm trying." Haubert is then seen hitting Vinson two times in the back of his head with his gun, the affidavit says.

Vinson also repeatedly said, "You're killing me," and visible injuries and blood could be seen on his head, the affidavit says. The video shows Haubert strike Vinson again, this time using the butt of his pistol on the top of Vinson's head.

Martinez was then seen in the video grabbing Vinson's shirt and ordering him to turn over. At that point, the video shows Haubert strike Vinson in the chest with his pistol, according to the affidavit.

The video then shows Haubert grab Vinson by the neck and force him backward. That action caused Haubert's body camera to become dislodged, the affidavit says.

Martinez's body camera continued recording, and it showed Vinson on the ground with Haubert's hands around his throat.

According to the affidavit, "while squeezing Vinson's throat," Haubert told Vinson, "If you move I will shoot you."

While the video shows Vinson trying to remove the officer's hands from his neck with his hands, it does not show him "striking, punching or kicking" Haubert, the affidavit says. It goes on to say it "does not appear Vinson made any life-threatening actions" toward either officer.

The video shows that Vinson's voice became hoarse and that he was struggling to speak and then appeared to be losing consciousness, the affidavit says. At one point, the affidavit says, Vinson began to cry while being strangled by the officer.

Based on the timestamps on the video, it was 39 seconds before Haubert removed his hands from Vinson's neck, the affidavit says.

Haubert was heard making various statements about the incident on body camera footage from other officers.

When asked by a sergeant who was responsible for the use of force, Haubert replied, "Me. I was wailing the [expletive] out of him," the affidavit says.

Martinez faces charges for failing to intervene in the incident. The charges she faces include:

  • Duty to intervene
  • Duty to report use of force by peace officer

Wilson said that Martinez was also released from custody after posting bond.

An Internal Affairs investigation is also underway, and Wilson said that Haubert was on administrative leave without pay, and Martinez is on administrative leave with pay because she does not face a felony charge.

The Internal Affairs investigation into Haubert will continue to go through the required review process, and Wilson will then make her final decision on if he violated department policy and what his discipline would've been.

"I hope the transparency that we're giving you here today as well as the swift action by our police department can make some of you believe we are trying to do the right thing, we are trying to reform, and we are trying to make a difference," Wilson said.

RELATED: Colorado police departments struggle with staffing shortages

RELATED: Aurora police chief addresses violence in the city

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