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Denver sergeant found not guilty of assault after hitting teenage suspect with metal baton

Sgt. Joseph Rodarte was arrested for investigation of second-degree assault in October 2018.

DENVER — Bodycam video shows an August 2018 incident where a Denver Police sergeant struck a teenage suspect several times with a baton, leaving him with fractures to his leg and a broken nose. He was found not guilty of assault.

Sgt. Joseph Rodarte was arrested on Oct. 18, 2018. After 6 hours of deliberation, a jury found Rodarte not guilty of second-degree assault last week, according to Carolyn Tyler with Denver District Attorney's Office.

The use of force incident that prompted the charges happened while he was on-duty on Aug. 22, 2018, according to a news release from the Denver Police Department.

(WARNING: This video contains graphic content that may be disturbing.) 

RELATED: Denver sergeant charged with assault after allegedly beating teenage suspect with metal baton

According to an arrest affidavit obtained by 9NEWS, on Aug. 22, Rodarte and three other officers were dispatched to the 1700 block of Pecos Street after receiving a report that there was a male in the area yelling obscenities.

This prompted a search for the suspect, who was apparently walking in the street near West Evans Avenue and South Platte River Drive. At the same time, the affidavit says officers received additional calls saying there was a man chasing another man with a gun near West Warren Avenue and South Kalamath Street.

According to the affidavit, Rodarte learned through talking with witnesses the suspect was having a manic episode.

Rodarte later saw the suspect in the 2200 block of South Jason Street and got out of his car. When the suspect approached Rodarte and another officer, the affidavit says he pushed the other officer from behind and fled into a nearby open lot.

The affidavit says officers chased the teen into a business listed as Eddie’s Auto Repair, and that he turned around and ran toward the officers.

One of the officers, according to the affidavit, tripped the teen to keep him from getting away.

The affidavit says Rodarte then approached him and struck him six times with his metal police baton, hitting him once in the upper face, once in the middle back, once on the upper right leg, once on the lower right leg, once on the lower left leg, and once on the upper left leg.

The victim needed several stitches above his right eye, had a broken nose, and fractured his tibia and fibula, the affidavit says.

Rodarte had been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the criminal case. 

This story draws on previous reporting from Allison Sylte, Krystyna Biassou and Jacob Rodriguez. 

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