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Jury acquits ex-Aurora cop who pistol-whipped Black man during 2021 arrest

Police Pistol Whipping Trial
Posted at 3:38 PM, Apr 11, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-12 07:46:59-04

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — A jury on Thursday acquitted a former Aurora police officer who admitted to pistol-whipping and choking a Black man during a 2021 arrest.

John Haubert, who resigned from the Aurora Police Department (APD) in July 2021, faced a handful of charges stemming from the arrest of Kyle Vinson, which was captured on body-worn cameras.

A predominantly white jury found Haubert not guilty of all charges, including attempted first-degree assault causing serious bodily injury with a deadly weapon and second-degree assault/ strangulation.

In a statement, 18th Judicial District Attorney John Kellner said his office is disappointed in the jury's verdict but respects the decision.

"While we are disappointed in the verdict, we respect the jury's decision. We have a duty to investigate and prosecute cases we believe we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. This verdict does not change our commitment to seeking justice for victims," Kellner said in a statement.

aurora body worn camera vinson.jpg


Fate of former Aurora officer who pistol-whipped man in the hands of the jury

Colette Bordelon
10:26 PM, Apr 10, 2024

During closing arguments Wednesday, prosecutors argued Haubert's actions were "unnecessary, excessive, and unreasonable." Lead prosecutor Tom Byrnes said Vinson was trying to protect himself from Haubert when he raised his arms.

"[Vinson] only started to resist and protect himself when the defendant's use of force became so surprising and excessive," Byrnes told the jury. “This was not the way the defendant was trained to arrest someone. It was a crime. It was wrong. He should be held accountable for it.”

Byrnes said Haubert hit Vinson more than a dozen times in the face with a gun and did not de-escalate the situation. The prosecution also rehashed a few comments Haubert made to responding officers in the moments following the altercation, which include:

"I was wailing the f*** out of him."

"All that blood on him is from me f****** pistol-whipping him."

"I was going to shoot him, but I didn't know if I had a round in or not."

Byrnes argued Haubert's life was not threatened when he began to use excessive force, and that a badge does not excuse Haubert's actions.

Defense attorneys, however, argued Haubert was doing his job as a police officer. In her closing argument, Kristen Frost said everything Haubert did that day was reasonable. She did not dispute that Haubert pistol-whipped Vinson but said it was not an example of excessive force and, instead, was a fight for Haubert's life.

She reminded the jury that Vincent was wanted on an active warrant and was in possession of over 30 fentanyl pills at the time of the arrest.

"Officers are to presume that people they haven't searched, particularly with warrants, are armed and dangerous. Use your common sense, that makes sense. That's a logical assumption that they would be armed and dangerous," Frost said to the jury.

Frost said Haubert was acting in defense of himself, his partner and the public. She insisted Haubert is an innocent man, and said he believed Vinson was grabbing for his gun. Frost claimed Haubert hit Vinson in self-defense.

“We're here because Kyle Vinson failed to follow appropriate commands over and over and over," said Frost. “We know Vinson ignored 10 demands in 15 seconds.”

The other officer on-scene that day, Francine Ann Martinez, was convicted of a misdemeanor for failure to intervene.

Jury acquits ex-Aurora cop who pistol-whipped Black man during 2021 arrest

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