AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — FOX31 is following new developments in a case involving an off-duty Aurora Police Officer accused of assaulting a disabled woman earlier this year. The victim’s attorneys say they have now filed a federal civil rights lawsuit.
The officer involved is no longer with the Aurora Police Department. Douglas Harroun resigned shortly after the incident and is now facing criminal charges, including assault by strangulation.
FOX31 cameras were rolling back in January as Harroun walked out of the Arapahoe County jail. The 32-year-old was arrested on Jan. 12 after deputies responded to an assault near an apartment complex in the 15900 block of East Briarwood Circle.
Attorney: Woman punched, pinned and strangled
Court records and witnesses state Wyoma Martinez, 49, was walking her dog in the parking lot when the off-duty officer was driving behind her in a Jeep. Harroun is then accused of revving his engine for her to move out of the way on an icy night, which started a verbal argument. Witnesses then say Harroun got out of his vehicle and started attacking.
Zachary Warren, one of Martinez’s attorneys, said: ”Officer Harroun used a closed fist to punch her in her face, causing her to immediately fall onto the icy and muddy pavement. Officer Harroun then pinned Ms. Martinez on the muddy and snowy ground, who was unarmed and posed no threat, proceeded to strangle her, and continued to punch her five to six more times in the face and neck, causing her head to hit the pavement multiple times.”
On Thursday, Warren and his team filed a federal civil rights lawsuit for excessive force against the city and former officer. Martinez is a Hispanic woman and suffers from a chronic medical condition. Her attorneys said she suffers from complex regional pain syndrome, which is a chronic condition that causes inflammation, nerve dysfunction and severe pain.
‘It’s got to stop, period, totally, end of story!’
Long-time community activist Alvertis Simmons has been fighting for better in the Aurora community.
“Her only crime was she was walking her dog. She committed no crime,” Simmons said. “It’s got to stop, period, totally, end of story! The mistreatment of Black and brown people has to stop. We are human beings. We deserve better.”
Simmons worked to get justice in the police death of Elijah McClain and is currently working to get justice for Preston Nunn, who was beaten by Aurora Police officers during a traffic stop in 2021.
“It saddens me that Aurora Police has not learned their lesson yet,” Simmons said.
Aurora has a long history of troubled policing. The department is trying to work on its tarnished relationship with the community, but Simmons said this case doesn’t help.
What does the police chief have to say?
FOX31 sat down with interim Police Chief Art Acevedo in January to discuss his thoughts on leading the department.
“Internally, we’re going to be looking at the best practices related to accountability, so the community understands we’re holding them accountable,” Acevedo said in January. “If they need to get more training, they’ll get more training. If they make mistakes, they’ll be taken to task.”
Right after the alleged assault of Martinez, Harroun was suspended and charged. At the time of the incident, Harroun was already on administrative leave for his involvement in an officer-involved shooting that happened on New Year’s Eve.
Harroun is expected to be back in court in June.
FOX31 reached out to the city for comment, which responded: “We have not been served or waived service on this lawsuit and, consequently, could not speak on it.”