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Former Colorado officer on trial for repeatedly hitting a man with his gun

A former Aurora, Colorado, police officer is heading to trial for repeatedly hitting a man during a 2021 arrest with a gun. He is facing assault and other charges.

A Colorado police officer is set to go on trial for his actions in the 2021 arrest of a Black man, including repeatedly hitting the man with a gun after he swatted his hands at the officer’s weapon, according to body camera footage and court documents.

The violent arrest in the Denver suburb of Aurora has put the former officer, John Haubert, on trial facing assault and other charges with opening statements expected Tuesday. The trial follows the convictions last year of a police officer and two paramedics from the city’s fire department in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain, who was put in a neckhold by police before being injected with the sedative ketamine by paramedics.

Haubert’s lawyer, Reid Elkus, did not immediately respond to a request for comment to the allegations but said at a a recent court hearing that there was a rush by police to investigate and charge Haubert. Haubert, who resigned, has pleaded not guilty.


His arrest of Kyle Vinson in July 2021 renewed anger about misconduct by the city's police department. The department's then-chief, Vanessa Wilson, who had vowed to try to restore trust, announced Haubert's arrest four days later, calling the handling of Vinson's arrest a "very despicable act."

Haubert also held his hand around Vinson's neck for about 39 seconds, according to Haubert's arrest affidavit, which referred to Haubert as "strangling" Vinson.

Vinson was taken to a hospital for welts and a cut on his head that required six stitches, police said.

Vinson was with two other men sitting under some trees when police responded to a report of trespassing in a parking lot. Two of the men got away from police, but Vinson was ordered to get on his stomach and put his hands out. He complied but repeatedly protested, saying he had not done anything wrong and police did not have a warrant. Police said there was a warrant for his arrest for a probation violation.

In 2021, Vinson told The Associated Press he was a homeless Army veteran who was trying to take a break from the midday heat when police approached. When the arrest turned violent, he said he thought about never being able to see his brother or his friends, ride his bicycle or eat again.

Vinson said he tried to comply with the officers’ orders as best he could and control his emotions so he would not be killed, noting the deaths of George Floyd and McClain.

"If someone was even not compliant just a little bit, they could have lost their life," he said.

Another former officer, Francine Martinez, was found guilty of failing to intervene to stop Haubert, a misdemeanor crime created by state lawmakers as part of a police reform law passed shortly after the killing of Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020. She was sentenced to six months of house arrest.

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