DENVER — A former Colorado police officer was found guilty of failing to intervene when another officer pistol-whipped and choked an unarmed man.
Francine Martinez, who worked for the Aurora Police Department, became the first officer in the state to be convicted by a jury under a police injunction. liability law require officers to intervene if they see colleagues using excessive force.
the law was adopted in 2020 after the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer outside a corner store while three other officers waited.
A jury in Arapahoe County District Court found last week that Martinez stood by when former officer John Haubert hit Kyle Vinson more than a dozen times with his pistol and threatened to kill him in July 2021.
Haubert also pointed his gun at Vinson’s head, body camera video shows Vinson suffered a cut to the head and one eye was swollen shut.
Martínez was fired and Haubert resigned.
“This should be a wake-up call to all law enforcement officers that the thin blue line of silence will not be tolerated in Colorado,” Vinson’s attorney, Siddhartha Rathod, said Tuesday. “Officers have a moral, ethical and legal duty to step in and say something when their fellow officers are committing acts of violence or crimes or other misdeeds.”
Former officers were responding to a search and trespass report in the 3100 block of South Parker Road when they encountered three people who had outstanding felony warrants and tried to arrest them.
Two of the people ran, but the third, Vinson, did not, police said.
The video showed Haubert with his hands around Vinson’s throat for 39 seconds as Vinson appeared to begin to lose consciousness.
In an affidavit, a witness, Jamie Bourknight, (not sure if this is official or not) claims that Vinson kicked one of them; the video doesn’t seem to show it.
“We are upset. They were angry. This is not police work,” then-Police Chief Vanessa Wilson said at the time. “We don’t train this. Is not acceptable.»
Phone calls to Martinez and his attorney, David Goddard, were not returned Tuesday.
Colorado’s «lack of intervention» law also requires all officers to wear body cameras by this July, prohibits chokeholds, limits potentially lethal uses of force, and removes qualified immunity from police. potentially exposing officers to prosecution for their actions in use of force cases. .
I saw most [the body camera video] — not all at once, but it’s a little hard to take in,» Vinson said. KUSA, an NBC affiliate from denver «I’m just thinking I’m grateful to still be here, because I thought I was going to die or be another Elijah McClain or George Floyd.»
Martinez is the first officer to be convicted by a jury under the law. Former Loveland officer Daria Jalali pleaded guilty last year to not intervene during the arrest of a 73-year-old woman with dementia. Jalali, who no longer works for the Loveland Police Department, was sentenced to 45 days in jail.
Martinez, who was convicted of a misdemeanor failure to intervene for her role in Vinson’s arrest, faces up to a year in jail when she is sentenced June 2.
Haubert is accused of first degree assault Causing Serious Bodily Injury with a Deadly Weapon, Second Degree Assault/Strangulation, and Serious Threat, among other charges. His trial is scheduled for November.