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Officials explain hiring process of Aurora officer accused of pistol-whipping, choking suspect

Officer John Haubert faces four felony charges
Hiring process of Aurora officer accused of pistol-whipping and choking suspect, explained
Posted at 11:05 PM, Jul 27, 2021

AURORA, Colo. — Less than a week ago, body camera video captured Aurora police officer John Haubert pistol-whipping and choking a suspect. Now, some wonder how the officer was hired in the first place.

On Monday, the Aurora Police Department announced that arrest warrants had been issued for two of their own. John Haubert faces felony charges in connection to the July 23 arrest of Kyle Vinson. Officer Francine Martinez, faces misdemeanor charges, accused of not intervening during the ordeal.

In 2009, Haubert pled guilty to prohibited use of a gun while drunk. Less than a decade later, he joined the department.

During a Tuesday press briefing, Chief Vanessa Wilson said the Department was not part of the hiring process but rather Aurora's Civil Service Commission.

The commission provided Denver7 with the following statement:

“None of the current Commissioners on the Civil Service Commission were involved in authorizing the hire of Officer Haubert in 2018. However, it is worth noting that all officers in the State of Colorado must become POST certified. POST is short for Peace Officers Standards and Training. Colorado POST reviews the criminal background of all officers applying to be POST certified and this officer passed that review. Since the Civil Service Commission by Aurora City Charter is part of the disciplinary appeal process for Officer Haubert, the Commission believes it is improper to make any comment at this time.”

On Tuesday evening, a commission spokesperson provided additional details:

“The Civil Service Commission handles the hiring process for entry-level applicants, not the Police Department. We intend to evaluate the background process currently in place and how to ensure decisions regarding hiring public servants will have the best possible outcome for the community."

A spokesperson for Colorado's POST told Denver7 the misdemeanor Haubert pled guilty to in 2009 is not one that would prohibit an officer from becoming POST certified.

POST elaborated to say:

"Anyone who is POST certified and is convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanors will be decertified. The POST Board will begin revocation proceedings upon sentencing for a decertifying crime, including deferred sentences regardless of the ultimate outcome of the deferment. Also, a finding of untruthfulness per C.R.S. 24-31-305(2.5) may result in the decertification of an officer after due process has occurred. An officer will also be decertified if they are convicted or plead guilty to a crime involving the unlawful use or threatened use of physical force, or a crime related to the failure to intervene in the use of unlawful force. There is due process that POST has to follow before revoking certification so it’s not automatic. But the felony conviction will result in decertification."

"You know, regardless of his [Haubert's] other credentials, I think any decent background vetting would have brought that up," said Iris Halpern of the firm Rathod Mohamedbhai LLC.

Tuesday, the firm, which also represents Elijah McClain's mother, announced it would be representing Vinson.

The firm said in a statement, in part:

"The harrowing body camera footage of Officers Francine Martinez and John Haubert's vicious, unprovoked assault illuminates the ongoing issue of police violence, particularly against community of color. Mr. Vinson recognizes that many are unable to walk away from police violence and he is grateful that he survived the attack."

Democratic State Rep. Leslie Herod, responsible for sponsoring Colorado's sweeping police reform bill in 2020, said officer Haubert should never have become an officer.

"When we have someone in our community who is sworn to serve and protect ...act that way, we should all be appalled and angry. And we should do something about it. I'm glad that they they're being held to account. I'll add that that the officers shouldn't have been in the community in the first place. You know, we should ensure this and the agencies need to do everything they can to ensure that the officers who are there to serve and protect actually are fit to do so. That officer was not." she said.