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Aurora officer under investigation for taking handcuffed suspect to ground, injuring him

The department said the officer "is currently working in a non-enforcement capacity, pending the outcomes of criminal and internal investigations."

AURORA, Colo — An Aurora Police Department (APD) officer is under investigation after he took a handcuffed suspect to the ground as the officer was escorting him out of a hospital last August, the department said.

On Thursday the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) completed its criminal investigation into an Aurora police officer's use of force. Now the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office will decide if the officer should face charges.

The officer was reassigned on Feb. 2. The department said he "is currently working in a non-enforcement capacity, pending the outcomes of criminal and internal investigations."

The department said the incident happened Aug. 14. Police did not say what the man was suspected of, or why he was in the hospital. 

As the officer and suspect approached the exit, the officer forcefully took the handcuffed suspect to the ground, resulting in injuries to his face, police said. 

The incident was captured by three officers' body-worn cameras. 

Editor's note: 9NEWS has blurred the suspect's face.  

Content warning: This video contains strong language, blood and violence.

David Thomas, a professor of forensic studies at Florida Gulf Coast University and an expert on police training and and use of force, reviewed the body camera video provided by APD.

The videos capture one officer saying "Stop resisting" and taking the suspect to the ground. The suspect says "I didn't do anything," and the officer says "You did. You just tried to pull my arm." 

The suspect says, "You f---ing ---hole, you broke my f---ing face." 

Blood can be seen dripping onto the ground near his face. Less than a minute later, hospital employees walk over and provide aid to the suspect.

"The reality is I didn't see anything wrong with what transpired," said Thomas. "You can see the subject take his arms and lock them out and push them, so their arms stiffen completely up. When your hand is down there, we always teach officers not to grab people by the handcuffs because subjects like to grate those cuffs – the chains of the cuffs – together and officers have lost their fingers."

Thomas believed the Aurora officer had no choice but to take the man to the ground.

"He didn't do anything that was excessive, and if he had not been handcuffed the landing would have been much softer," said Thomas.

The department said "due to the initial classification and the Force Investigation Unit’s caseload," the incident wasn't reviewed until mid-January. After the preliminary review, the unit notified the chief of police, who authorized an internal investigation and requested the CBI conduct a criminal investigation. 

APD's internal investigation is ongoing. 

The department said the incident – and the delay in the investigation – prompted two changes in the department. 

The department said all use of force incidents will now be immediately investigated and reviewed by an officer’s supervisor and then evaluated at the district level by the chain of command. If the use of force is questionable or unclear, the case will be elevated to the Force Investigations Unit for immediate review.

The department also said an internal investigation will take place at the same time as a criminal investigation. In the past, the department said, when an officer was accused of a crime, the practice was to wait until the criminal investigation was completed and adjudicated before launching an internal investigation. 

"That is not a good practice,” Aurora police Chief Art Acevedo said in a news release. “We will now conduct a parallel internal affairs investigation and take our own independent action based on our findings.”

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