DENVER — A former Aurora police officer accused of failing to stop a violent arrest two years ago testified in her own defense late Thursday afternoon.
On July 23, 2021, Francine Martinez answered a call for trespassing on South Parker Road.
Within minutes, a second officer at the scene, John Haubert, repeatedly pistol-whipped and choked the trespassing suspect, Kyle Vinson, and pointed a gun at Vinson's head. Vinson was unarmed at the time.
Prosecutors said Martinez did nothing to stop the attack, despite her legal obligation to intervene in cases like that.
But, on the witness stand, Martinez testified that Haubert’s attack on Vinson happened so quickly that she had no time to intervene. When asked by her attorney to "describe the strikes (Haubert) delivered," Martinez responded, "they were without warning and very rapid."
Later, Martinez testified that she "did not feel that it was safe to tell (Haubert) to stand down, I did not feel that it was safe for me to go one-on-one with Mr. Vinson."
Martinez also testified that, during the "struggle" with Vinson, she felt "concerned...and, for me, it felt like a fight for our lives."
Martinez was fired from the Aurora Police Department soon after the incident.
Haubert resigned from the department and is now facing assault charges. His trial is scheduled to begin in November.
If convicted, Martinez would face up to 18 months in jail and could also be permanently barred from becoming a peace officer in Colorado.
The Colorado legislature approved a failure to intervene law in 2020 as part of a sweeping police reform package.
Martinez's trial is believed to be the first trial in Colorado connected to the new law.
A Loveland police officer pleaded guilty last year to failing to intervene in connection with the violent arrest of Karen Garner, a 73 year-old Loveland resident with dementia who was accused of shoplifting about thirteen dollars worth of goods from her local Walmart.
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