Officer arrests show Colorado police reform law ‘is working,’ lawmaker says

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AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — A key lawmaker behind Colorado’s police accountability law says it’s working, as illustrated by recent instances of police misconduct and how they’ve been handled.

The arrest of two Aurora police officers is the latest in a string of Colorado officer arrests since the killing of George Floyd. Floyd’s death and the historic protests that followed inspired a law requiring Colorado police officers to intervene and report excessive uses of force.

John Haubert, an Aurora police officer, is charged with multiple counts of assault after an alleged use of force incident. (Credit: Arapahoe County District Court)

Two Aurora police officers are facing criminal charges in connection to an excessive force incident that happened on Friday. Police Chief Vanessa Wilson called the officers’ actions despicable.

“I can tell you we are disgusted,” Wilson said in a Tuesday press conference. “We are angry. This is not policework.”

New law plays out statewide

Body-camera video from the incident has already been made public. It’s an action Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver, is praising.

The body camera footage was released right away,” Herod said. “That shows that our law is working, and it is quite frankly doing more than I thought it would be doing, which is changing the culture in some of these departments.”

Aurora police Officer John Haubert appears to strangle a man during an arrest on July 23, 2021. (Credit: Arapahoe County Court)

Herod is one of the state lawmakers responsible for the law allowing prosecutors to charge officers who fail to intervene and/or report excessive force at the hands of a fellow officer. Aurora is just the latest example of how the law is playing out statewide.

“We have Aurora,” Herod said. “We have Idaho Springs, Weld County and Loveland. I am proud to say that Colorado has taken a stand to say this is not acceptable.”

Reactions ‘direct correlation’ to new law

In the Aurora incident on Friday, Kyle Vinson was reportedly stopped for trespassing, and the situation turned violent. The police chief calls Kyle Vinson the victim in the encounter.

Officer John Haubert is seen on video using force against Vinson. Officer Francine Martinez is facing two misdemeanors for failure to intervene and report.

Francine Martinez, an Aurora police officer, is charged with failing to report use of force after allegedly witnessing John Haubert, another officer, assault a man during a police response. (Credit: Arapahoe County District Court)

“We know that there’s a direct relationship … direct correlation [to the law],” Herod said.

Wilson said officers are receiving training on de-escalation and on the duty to intervene and report. Both officers are on leave pending an internal affairs probe. They have since bonded out of jail.

Police said the reason for Vinson’s eventual arrest was for an outstanding warrant relating to a domestic violence incident.

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