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'I was waiting for the bullet to come out': Man says he thought Aurora cop was going to kill him

WARNING: Some viewers may find the body camera video in this story disturbing.

AURORA, Colo — The man who was seen in body camera footage being strangled by an Aurora officer for more than 30 seconds and struck multiple times in the head by that officer with his duty weapon said he thought he was going to die.

"I was just thinking that I was going to die – that I was not going to see another day," said Kyle Vinson – the man seen in the body camera footage.

Vinson still has lingering effects related to what happened on July 23.

"Just my chest. You know, my chest hurts – headaches and blurred vision and stuff," Vinson said Tuesday, roughly 10 days after the incident. "But, you know, I'm just taking it one day at a time – you know – hanging in there."

The incident began when officers John Haubert and Francine Martinez responded to a trespassing call on July 23 in the 3100 block of South Parker Road. Both have been arrested, and Haubert, who faces felony assault charges, has since resigned.

While responding to that call, the officers encountered Vinson, who had an active warrant out for his arrest, an arrest affidavit says. Aurora Police (APD) Chief Vanessa Wilson later said she believed Vinson was unaware of the warrant when the officers approached him and attempted to take him into custody.

>Video below: Kyle Vinson shares his story with 9Wants to Know reporter Jeremy Jojola.

Arrest warrants were issued for the officers on July 26, and the next day on July 27, APD released body camera footage that shows that Haubert had his hands around Vinson's throat for 39 seconds until Vinson appeared to begin to lose consciousness.

"I watched the majority of it [the body camera footage] – not all at once, but it's kind of hard to take in," Vinson said. "I'm just thinking I'm thankful I'm still here, because I thought I was going to die or be another Elijah McClain or George Floyd."

He suffered numerous injuries during the incident including:

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

RELATED: Aurora officer facing assault charges resigns

Body-camera video also showed Haubert striking Vinson numerous times on the head with his duty-weapon, according to the affidavit for his arrest. He's also seen holding the gun to Vinson's head in the video. Chief Wilson later said Haubert appeared to strike Vinson with his duty weapon as many as 13 times.

"When we put my face into the rocks and had the gun to my head, that was pretty... " said Vinson trailing off. "Cause he didn't just have it to the back of my head, he pushed it in. So I was waiting for the bullet to come out."

Credit: Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office

RELATED: Aurora officer ran from scene when stopped for suspected DUI, police say

The video also 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 below contains graphic images. Viewer discretion is advised.

The video showed 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.

When asked whose blood was on his weapon, Haubert was heard saying in body camera footage, "Should be his [Vinson's], all that blood on him is from me [expletive] pistol whipping him."

"I would just ask why. 'What made you that angry to use that force?'" Vinson responded when asked what he would say to Haubert.

Haubert faces the following charges:

  • Attempted first-degree assault
  • Second-degree assault 
  • Felony menacing
  • Official oppression
  • First-degree official misconduct

An 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 had he not resigned. He's next due in court on Aug. 9.

Martinez faces the following misdemeanor charges:

  • Duty to Intervene
  • Duty to Report Use of Force by Peace Officer

She remains on paid leave, which APD's chief said was the only option given the less serious charges she's facing.

"There should definitely be some consequences," said Vinson. "I was beat with a pistol multiple times for no reason while I was complying with the officers." 

He hopes that speaking out about what happened to him will bring about a change in police policy. He's specifically hoping to bring about awareness to the way people of color and those experiencing homelessness are treated.

"This happens to a lot of people, man. Like it happens to a lot of homeless people, people of color. I don't think it's recognized enough, you know," said Vinson, who admitted that he's experiencing homelessness.

Attorney's representing Vinson previously released the following statement:

"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."

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