Aurora news conference

Aurora police chief Vanessa Wilson, center, prepares to speak after showing body-camera footage of an officer beating an unarmed man during an arrest on suspicion of trespassing. City manager Jim Twombly stands to her left.

 

The Aurora police officer who is facing criminal charges and an internal affairs investigation after being shown on body camera footage beating an unarmed man has resigned, the police department announced Thursday afternoon. 

John Haubert submitted a letter of resignation to Police Chief Vanessa Wilson, the department said in a blog post.

The internal affairs investigation, which Wilson said she ordered expedited, will continue, according to the post.

When it's complete, Wilson will make a decision about whether Haubert violated police department directives and what discipline he would have received had he not resigned. The decision will be released to the public.

The department released body-camera footage Tuesday of Haubert beating Kyle Vinson with his gun and choking him. Haubert and officer Francine Martinez had responded to a trespassing call. Several other people fled when police arrived.

Vinson had not resisted the officers' orders to get on his stomach when Haubert began hitting him, and the footage shows him gasping for air and repeatedly crying, "You're killing me."

Haubert, 39, faces criminal charges of attempted first-degree assault, second-degree assault, felony menacing, official oppression and first-degree official misconduct. He had been a patrol officer with Aurora for three years.

Martinez, 40, faces misdemeanor charges of failure to intervene and failure to report use of force by an officer.

A spokesperson for Aurora police declined to make additional comments about Haubert's resignation. In a news conference Tuesday, Wilson denounced his actions, saying the department is "disgusted" and "angry."

"This is not police work. This is not police work. ... This is not the Aurora Police Department. This was criminal," she said.

Haubert's attorney has not responded to requests for comment.

Qusair Mohamedbhai, Vinson's attorney, said in a statement Thursday Haubert's resignation is "long overdue."

"No person capable of the horrific and malicious acts such as those perpetrated against our client should be able to wear a badge," Mohamedbhai said in the statement. "His removal from the Aurora Police Department is a step in the right direction. However, much more work is needed to reform the system and culture that allowed his employment in the first place and for this abuse to occur."

Mohamedbhai this week praised Wilson for responding quickly to the incident, saying she took "impressive and decisive actions on a compressed timeline that I have never seen before to address this situation."

Wilson officially took the helm as Aurora's police chief last year under the lingering shadow of Elijah McClain's death in August 2019. Officers choked McClain, a Black man, in a carotid hold during a stop and paramedics called to the scene injected McClain with ketamine. McClain fell into a coma and died several days later. 

Activists and policing reform advocates have criticized Wilson for allowing the officers who detained McClain to remain employed by the police department. She was not the department's chief when he died. Wilson fired three officers in July after two of them had posed for a photo at McClain's memorial site mimicking the hold used on him. Another officer involved in detaining McClain, Jason Rosenblatt, received the photo in a text message and replied "Ha ha."

At Tuesday's news conference, Wilson spoke directly to Aurora police officers, saying she knows Haubert's conduct doesn't represent them. She acknowledged the community's anger over the incident, but begged for peace.

"To my officers that are out on the street, I know this is affecting you. But I want you to know that you're excellent, and I know that you come to work each and every day through what we've been through," she said. "This is not you, and you know that."

Meanwhile authorities said Kyle Vinson, the man seen in the video, is in the Denver Detention Center being held on $5,000 bond on charges related to his parole violation, which stemmed from a domestic violence charge.

According to the Denver District Attorney's office, the warrant for Vinson was issued at the request of probation officials because he hadn't met the terms of his deferred judgment. 

Charles Nicholas, Vinson's attorney, declined to comment on Vinson's condition but did confirm that Vinson was originally sent to Arapahoe County Jail and was transported to the Denver Detention Center to address the probation violation.

According to the court website, Vinson has a court date to answer that violation on Aug. 6 in Denver District Court.

Carol McKinley contributed to this report.