AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — A former Aurora police officer, who was fired for leaving a prisoner hobbled, in an inverted position for 21 minutes in the backseat of his patrol car during a transport to the jail last summer, said he has remorse for the incident and regrets not looking back at her to make sure she was okay.
“I’m sorry. It was a mistake, but I had no clue she was in an inverted position in the backseat of my car,” Levi Huffine said during his testimony in front of the City of Aurora’s Civil Service Commission.
Huffine is trying to get his job back after the police chief fired him in February.
“I do think it was serious. I do feel remorse,” Huffine said, who explained that he often doesn’t outwardly show emotion. “I did go home, and I did feel bad for Miss (Shataeah) Kelly.”
Kelly continuously screamed for help, saying she could not breathe, during the transport to jail in August 2019. Kelly, who is Black, also referred to the white officer as “master” while she begged to have her head lifted from the floorboard behind the driver’s seat while her hands and legs were restrained.
Huffine did not stop his patrol vehicle to check her well-being during the ride. He said he wanted to get Kelly to the jail as quickly as possible, so he could remove her from her restraints.
“I was relying on my instinct and my training, and it happened, and there’s nothing I can do to change that,” Huffine said.
He said he used his previous experience to determine that Kelly did not show any other signs of being in medical distress even though he didn’t look at Kelly while she was yelling.
Huffine testified that he did not initially reveal his remorse to the police chief, Vanessa Wilson, during his disciplinary hearing. He said she unfairly portrayed him as an officer who inhumanely treats prisoners and called the chief’s comments about him a “character assassination.”
“I am not somebody who is out there to punish people. I’m out there to protect – protect the individuals who need us the most,” he said.
Huffine said he worked for the city in different capacities since June of 1996. According to records obtained by the FOX31 Problem Solvers, Huffine was hired in November 2012 as a patrol officer.
The municipal charges for which Kelly was arrested, including assault and battery, injury to property, abusive language or threats, alter or befoul property, and escape, were ultimately dismissed by the city attorney. Kelly, who had been drinking, was the person who initially called 911 for help with an aggressive man.
The Commission will determine whether the officer violated the specific department directives he’s accused of violating, according to Michael Bryant, a spokesperson for the City. They will also determine whether his termination was appropriate.
The findings, according to Bryant, will be announced in a written order approximately two weeks after the conclusion of the hearing.