‘When somebody has a badge you don’t know what to do’: Man strangled by Aurora officer shares his perspective

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AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — For the first time, we’re hearing from a man who was strangled and pistol-whipped by Aurora Police during his arrest in July.

Kyle Vinson was wanted on a domestic violence arrest warrant out of Denver when Aurora police officers John Haubert and Francine Martinez arrived on scene to arrest him. Body camera video shows officer Haubert strangling Vinson and hitting him over the head several times with his gun.

“I just remember saying like, ‘He’s killing me and nobody’s stopping,'” Vinson told FOX31’s Vicente Arenas in a sit-down interview. “I remember a couple people seeing me. I just remember seeing the horror in their faces, like being really scared and helpless, because when somebody has a badge you don’t know what to do. They have the upper authority.”

“Next thing I know my head is going into the ground with the rocks and there’s a gun to the back of my head. And saying he’s going to shoot me if I move and I’m being whacked and whacked and whacked,” Vinson said.

Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson has condemned the actions of the two officers, who are now both facing criminal charges for how they handled an arrest in late July.

“We’re disgusted, we’re angry,” Wilson said when she released the body camera video just days after the incident. “This is not police work. We don’t train this. It’s not acceptable.”

“It was scary. I only remember the first four or five hits of him hitting me with the pistol and then after that I was more worried about my life instead of how many times he’s hitting me,” Vinson added.

“I think it’s (happening) because we’re of color and homelessness is looked at differently by police these days you know,” said Vinson. 

One of his attorneys says Vinson’s case draws attention to systemic problems at APD. 

“This seems to be systematic and this is an issue. It seems there needs to be a lot that Chief Wilson needs to do to address the culture that goes on and to make sure that this type of behavior is nipped in the bud,” Azra Taslimi, one of Vinson’s attorneys at the Rathod Mohamedbai Law Firm said.

Haubert is facing at least one felony charge and was placed on unpaid leave before he resigned. Martinez’ charges were misdemeanors so she was placed on paid leave for the duration of the investigation.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help with Vinson’s expenses while recovers.

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