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62-year-old man sues DPD, claims excessive force during church parking lot arrest

The lawsuit states that Aaron Hernandez, Sr. sustained multiple injuries to his face and elbows.

DENVER — It's been almost two years, and 62-year-old Aaron Hernandez Sr. still has not seen the video of his arrest as it begins to make its rounds on the internet.

"It was embarrassing," Hernandez Sr. said. "It just hurt me a lot."

He and his attorneys at Baumgartner Law filed a lawsuit this week against the City of Denver and four Denver Police (DPD) officers, citing excessive force, among other allegations, in a June 30, 2019 incident. 

The lawsuit also alleges "malicious prosecution," arguing there was no probable cause to arrest him and charge him with assault on police officers.

Eventually, those charges were dropped.

According to court documents, DPD Officer Michael O'Neill saw a car parked in a church parking lot and ran its plates.

He and his son, Aaron Hernandez Jr., were inside of the vehicle after cleaning up their church's parking lot, according to Hernandez Sr.

>> Watch the full police body camera footage below

There was a warrant out for Hernandez Jr., so officers took him into custody as Hernandez Sr. began to exit the vehicle.

Hernandez Sr. said he got out of the car because he was recovering from recent surgery and suffered from severe sciatic pain. He was uncomfortable, so he wanted to stand up to try and adjust his position, he said.

"Next thing you know, it felt like I was under attack," he said.

Police body camera video shows Officer Jayme Larson approaching Hernandez Sr., who tells her he is in pain. Larson tries putting his hands behind his back, which Hernandez states he cannot do.

A struggle ensued.

Officer Vance Johnson, who also arrived as backup, said in police reports that Hernandez Sr. had kicked his groin, so the officer struck him in the face with his elbow, causing "severe facial injuries," according to the lawsuit.

Court documents show Larson also accused Hernandez Sr. of kicking her.

Lawyers for Hernandez Sr. said he was in jail for three days without proper medical attention and that only after nine months were the charges against him dropped.

"Not a single person has apologized to Mr. Hernandez. Not one," attorney Birk Baumgartner said. "As a matter of fact, the police officers involved in this incident received commendations for their actions towards him. That's shocking."

DPD said they heard about the lawsuit through media inquiries, but it has not been delivered to them yet.

"They do need to change the policy about how to handle people," Hernandez Sr. said.

The department said it does not comment on pending litigation but did confirm that all officers involved in this incident are still with the department.

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