A Colorado police officer has been accused of strangling, pistol-whipping and repeatedly threatening to shoot an unarmed man.
Images from body camera footage appear to show Officer John Haubert, 39, of the Aurora Police Department, repeatedly striking the head of a man he had arrested with his gun and throttling him. The man cried, begged for his life and nearly fainted, according to arrest documents.
“This is not the Aurora Police Department,” Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson said at a Tuesday press conference. “This was criminal.”
The officer faces charges of attempted first-degree assault, second-degree assault, felony menacing, official oppression and first-degree official misconduct.
Mr Haubert and his colleague, Aurora Police Officer Francine Martinez, 40, detained 29-year-old Kyle Vinson on a felony warrant last Friday, reports the Sentinel Colorado.
Trying to put Mr Vinson in handcuffs, Mr Haubert told him to roll onto his stomach as he pressed the barrel of his pistol against his head. Mr Vinson complied, according to Aurora Police Detective Ethan Snow, who wrote the affidavit seeking a warrant for Mr Haubert’s arrest.
“Officer Haubert continued to press his duty pistol against Mr. Vinson’s head despite Mr. Vinson’s compliance,” Mr Snow wrote. Mr Vinson then tried to free one of his arms.
Mr Haubert allegedly then climbed on top of Mr Vinson and struck his head with his gun over and over, causing multiple wounds on his face and head which covered his shirt in blood.
According to the affidavit, Mr Haubert put his hands around Mr Vinson’s neck for at least 39 seconds, threatened to shoot him and told him to stop resisting, even though, as Mr Snow wrote: “It did not appear that Mr. Vinson had made any attempts to fight Officer Haubert.”
“Mr. Vinson stated over and over again that he can’t breathe,” read Mr Snow’s affidavit.
Mr Haubert was heard telling other officers who arrived on the scene: “All that blood on him is from me f****** pistol whipping him … I was wailing the f*** out of him.”
Ms Wilson said she has started an expedited internal affairs investigation into the incident. At a news conference on Tuesday she told reporters: “We’re disgusted, we’re angry. This is not police work … We don’t train this. It’s not acceptable.”
Mr Haubert has been placed on administrative leave without pay pending the outcome of the investigation.
This is the latest in a series of serious abuse-of-force incidents at Aurora Police Department.