Aurora Police officer John Haubert was arrested this week for beating, choking, and threatening to kill a helpless black man who never did anything to threaten him. Officer Francine Ann Martinez is also facing charges for failing to intervene.
Body camera footage released today showing the encounter is embedded below this article. In it you can see a man sitting on the ground when Haubert pounces on him, orders him to get on his stomach, and extend his hands. He followed his command, but at the same time asked questions like "what did I do?" Then Haubert starts striking him with the butt of his pistol, a cut opens up on the victim's head, and eventually he can be seen grabbing him by the throat when his body cam falls off and he can be heard saying, "you move I will shoot you." According an affidavit (see PDF link above map), Haubert choked the man for 39 seconds. He can also be heard accusing the victim of trying to grab his gun, which is a common tactic used by police to try and justify excessive force when they know their cameras probably won't see what is really going on (see https://copblaster.com/blast/25811/family-wants-nathan-woodyard-jason-rosenblatt-randy-roedema-charged). The struggle continued for a few minutes as the victim tried to defend and/or free himself obviously fearing for his life not knowing why he was being assaulted. Officer Michael Dieck arrived on the scene later and tased the victim. Haubert was later heard telling a sergeant "I was going to shoot him but I didn't know if I had a round in it or not." Striking an unarmed suspect with the butt of a pistol let along firing it just because he won't stop moving is never justified.
The Aurora Police Department (APD) has placed Haubert on unpaid administrative leave while internal affairs conducts an internal investigation. He faces charges of attempted first-degree assault, second-degree assault, felony menacing, official oppression and official misconduct. APD Chief Vanessa Wilson called Haubert's actions "very despicable."
According to public records, John Raymond Haubert is a 39 year old resident of Parker, Colorado. He spent time in jail for a 2009 conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm while intoxicated. According to a police report obtained by KDVR, Haubert was charged with felony menacing for pointing a shotgun at someone during a dispute (https://kdvr.com/news/local/arrested-aurora-officer-spent-time-in-jail-years-before-he-was-hired-by-apd/). Despite the conviction he was still able to become a police officer.
We are pleased to see that the APD is holding Haubert and Martinez accountable for their actions. Normally we would expect them to charge the victim with resisting arrest and making a false statement for saying "I can't breathe" when he obviously could breathe. We just hope the charges stick.