A Colorado doctor has threatened legal action against the Aurora Police Department after an officer held him at gunpoint as he tried to park at his own property, media outlets report.
Police body camera video captured the moment the officer drew his gun on Dr. PJ Parmar, according to local station KUSA-TV. Parmar, who runs the Mango House refugee center in Aurora, also filmed the March 1 incident on his cellphone.
The officer “jumped out of his car, told me to get my bleeping hands in the air and was right at my door with his gun at my head,” Parmar told the news station.
The doctor said he was pulling into the center, which serves as a “shared space for refugees and asylees,” to drop off gear from a recent Boy Scout trip but was blocked by a police car in the parking garage, KDVR reported. He honked at the officer to move and was soon confronted by the cop with a gun.
Aurora police launched an internal affairs investigation into the officer last month, The Denver Channel reported.
“Aurora police said there was no standard incident report completed on this case, but there is body worn camera footage that is being reviewed as part of the internal investigation,” according to the news outlet.
McClatchy News contacted the Aurora Police Department for comment and is awaiting response.
“I knew there was going to be something interesting, so I started filming him,” Parmar told KDVR, recalling the incident. “It’s a mix of being scared and it’s a mix of being annoyed and frustrated.”
In the video captured by police, the officer, later identified as Jay Henderson, is heard ordering the doctor to show his hands.
“Let me see your (expletive) hands. What are you doing?” he says, according to the video.
The officer is seen pointing his gun at Parmar, who is still seated in his car.
Parmar repeatedly asks the officer to leave his property, but he refuses, the doctor’s cell phone video shows. At one point, the officer reprimands him for “driving up on a police officer who’s sitting there like that.”
“The way I pulled in was absolutely the way I pulled in many times,” Parmar told KDVR of the incident. “I didn’t know he was there.”
Parmar, who is Indian American, said things may have been worse “if he was darker,” KUSA-TV reported.
The doctor’s lawyer, civil rights attorney David Lane, is now planning a federal lawsuit against the police department for what he says is a clear case of excessive force by the officer, according to The Sentinel Colorado. Lane said current law stipulates that anytime an officer pulls their weapon on a civilian, it’s considered “use of force.”
“That force may only be used if the officer is in reasonable fear for his or her life,” he told the newspaper. “Dr. Parmar was merely loading boxes into his vehicle on his own property when an Aurora officer approached him with a drawn gun.”
The police department has faced scrutiny following the death of Elijah McClain, a young Black man placed in a chokehold during his August 2019 arrest. McClain, 23, died three days later.
Four officers were recently fired after photos showed them re-enacting the chokehold used on McClain near a memorial site , McClatchy News reported.
Two of the officers — Kyle Dittrich and Erica Marrero — appealed their dismissals July 8, according to the Associated Press.
Parmar and his attorney have requested to meet with Aurora police regarding the incident, KUSA-TV reported.
“We have simply said, ‘Look, if you want to discuss this, you have until sundown on July 10 to contact me and say let’s talk about this,’” Lane said, according to the news station. “At which point we can engage in some substantive discussions regarding changes in policy for the Aurora Police Department.”
The pair are also seeking monetary damages and disciplinary action against the officer.
“It’s not an issue of a few bad apples,” Parmar said, according to The Sentinel Colorado. “It’s an issue of — we have a few good apples. The majority of the barrel of apples is a little bit rotten at this point.”