PUEBLO, Colo — When Pueblo Police opened a new criminal investigation into a citizen’s arrest of a homeless man that ended in a beating last September, a spokesman said at the time the department had just become aware of surveillance video of the scene. But e-mails obtained by 9NEWS show the owner of the surveillance cameras alerted police about the video seven months before.
On Thursday, Pueblo Police announced it will open an internal affairs investigation into the department’s handling of the case.
On Sept. 14, surveillance video captured Doug Cullison tackling Alex Montoya, who is experiencing homelessness, and holding him on the ground. Montoya had been accused of punching Cullison’s wife, a teacher at a nearby school, after she and other school staffers shooed him off the property, according to a police report. Cullison’s wife sent him a photo of Montoya and Cullison tracked him down blocks away near a coffee shop.
While Cullison holds Montoya on the ground, someone who appears to be walking by leans down and punches Montoya several times. Then another man, whom Montoya’s attorney identifies as Cullison’s son, Nate, arrives.
In the video, Nate Cullison, an MMA fighter, appears to take a running kick at Montoya and proceeds to punch Montoya repeatedly, at one point yelling “why did you hit my mom,” as Montoya screams.
Doug Cullison and his son held Montoya on the ground for several minutes until a Pueblo Police officer arrived.
> Below is the surveillance video showing the assault of a man during a "citizen's arrest":
Days later, on Sept. 19, the owner of the business that captured that video sent an e-mail to a Pueblo Police officer investigating the case with links to several angles of video of the incident.
“The video and (especially) audio is really awful and haunting,” the owner wrote in an e-mail to Pueblo Police Sgt. Javier Baca. “I hope these videos help to get some charges on the attackers.”
The owner told 9NEWS Baca never responded.
In a statement posted on the department’s Facebook page Thursday announcing an internal affairs investigation, the department called the officer’s lack of follow-up an unacceptable mistake.
“Due to technical difficulties, the investigating officer was not able to view the video or download the content as evidence and no further follow-up was conducted,” the statement said.
A spokesman denied a 9NEWS request for an interview on the case citing the pending investigation.
On Friday afternoon, the department posted photos from the video, seeking information about two men spotted in the video, indicating they now have the video.
An internal investigation into the case will also likely look into the way police responded to the situation.
According to a police report from that day, an officer saw Montoya was bleeding from the head and lip after the officer arrived on scene. The officer wrote Doug Cullison told him Montoya scraped his head during the citizen’s arrest.
A report of dispatch notes relating to the call obtained by 9NEWS shows a caller told police two men were hitting and kicking Montoya on that scene. The caller noted “they used a lot of force.”
The Pueblo Police Department said the investigation into the assault is ongoing.
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