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PD: Aurora officer ignored restrained woman who fell onto floorboard and said she couldn't breathe

Posted at 5:50 PM, Jul 17, 2020

AURORA, Colo. — An Aurora police officer was fired earlier this year after he allegedly ignored an arrested woman who had fallen onto the floorboard of his patrol vehicle and repeatedly asked for help, saying she could not breathe, according to a disciplinary letter released by officials on Friday.

Officer Levi Huffine was fired in February. The Denver Post first reported the reason for his firing on Friday, shedding light on the incident for the first time.

Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson, in the disciplinary letter, told Huffine that he "displayed complete disregard for [arrested woman] as a human being and any suffering she may have been experiencing while in your care during transport."

The incident happened on Aug. 27, 2019. Huffine was transporting the woman to jail after she was arrested on municipal charges involving a fight.

At some point during the ride to jail, the woman slid onto the floorboard of Huffine's patrol vehicle with her head on the floor, the disciplinary letter said. She was in an inverted position on the floorboard for about 21 minutes until Huffine arrived at the jail.

During the ride, the woman repeatedly asked Huffine for help, according to the letter, and said her neck was going to break, that she couldn't breathe and that she did not want to die like that.

"You did not look to see what had happened to [the woman]," the letter said. "You did not stop the car and physically check on her or reposition her to a safe and appropriate position on the rear seat."

A department review board recommended that Huffine be suspended for 180 hours but Wilson decided to fire the officer. Huffine appealed the firing and has a Civil Service Commission hearing set for September, according to the Post.

The details on Huffine's firing comes at a time of upheaval in the Aurora Police Department, which has faced backlash for months over the August death of Elijah McClain.

McClain died of a heart attack after three Aurora police officers took him into custody.

Last month photos surfaced of three officers imitating the carotid control hold used on McClain. Two officers in the photos were fired and one resigned. Also, Randy Rosenblatt, one of the officers involved in McClain's arrest, received the photos and replied, "Ha ha," and was fired as well.