Cop Caught on Video Pistol-Whipping an Unarmed Man for Trespassing

“If you move, I will shoot you,” the officer warned a distressed and bleeding man, according to the bodycam footage.
July 28, 2021, 4:08pm
Screen capture from bodycam footage from Officer John Haubert of the Aurora, Colorado police.
Screen capture from bodycam footage from theOfficer John Haubert of the Aurora, Colorado police. (Credit: Aurora Police Department)

A Colorado cop pistol-whipped and choked an unarmed man as he sobbed, screamed, and pleaded for help during a July 23 arrest, according to shocking body camera footage released Tuesday. 

“If you move, I will shoot you,” Officer John Haubert warned the distressed, bleeding man, according to the bodycam footage.

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Haubert has now been charged with attempted first-degree assault, second-degree assault, felony menacing, official oppression, and first-degree official misconduct as a result of that exchange—adding yet another stain to the police department in Aurora, Colorado, which has racked up a fair number of controversies in the past few years. 

Francine Martinez, another officer on the scene, was also essentially accused of not stopping him; an arrest warrant was issued against her for offenses including “duty to intervene.”

The bodycam footage is likely to draw even more scrutiny to the Aurora Police Department, which has repeatedly been slammed with instances of its own officers’ brutality, including the death of Elijah McClain in 2019, an incident in which cops restrained a Black woman upside-down as she cried out that she couldn’t breathe, and a viral video that showed officers mistakenly detaining several Black girls. 

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As Chief Vanessa Wilson prepared to unveil the department’s latest alleged occurrence of violence in a press conference Tuesday, she warned reporters, “What you’re going to see is going to anger you. It may even bring you to tears.”

“I know as I watched it I felt myself welling up with tears as well as anger,” she said, before cautioning people to not have their small children around as she played the footage. 

What led to the incident, Wilson explained, was a call for service about trespassing. Officers responded to the complaint, found three men sitting outdoors in front of their bicycles, and ran their names to check if they were wanted for any crimes. Police discovered that each person, including the man Haubert went on to assault, had a warrant out for their arrest.

Once cops moved to arrest the group, two of the people fled—but not 29-year-old Kyle Vinson, who had an outstanding warrant for an incident related to domestic violence, according to the Sentinel, a local newspaper. 

“What the hell did I do, dude?” Vinson said after Haubert pushed him. 

In response, Haubert barked out a series of orders, which Vinson seemed to comply with at first. Still, Haubert threatened Vinson saying, “You have a gun pointed straight to your head. Cooperate.”

Vinson said he did not have a warrant as pleaded for help, though he seemed to squirm and panic when an officer tried to put him in handcuffs. Once he twisted his body and was facing Haubert, the officer screamed at him to get back on his stomach and hit him several times. 

“You’re killing me,” Vinson cried.

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Haubert grabbed Vinson’s throat, threatened to shoot him, and said, “Stop fighting.” By that point, massive bulges appeared to be protruding from Vinson’s head, and there was blood on the ground and Vinson’s hands. 

Eventually, Vinson was handcuffed.

“They ran and you guys beat me up,” he told the officers. 

Wilson apologized for the incident and said the officers who had seen the footage were disgusted and angry. An internal investigation has also been launched. But she asked that the public “not paint this police department with a broad brush.”

“This is not the Aurora Police Department,” Wilson said. “This is criminal.” 

Both officers have turned themselves in, according to NPR. An attorney for Haubert did not respond to VICE News’ request for comment, and it was not immediately clear if Martinez had retained counsel. 

The Aurora Police Association also did not immediately return VICE News’ request for comment.