Denver police have come under scrutiny after a witness, bearing video evidence, says that they used excessive force in restraining a suspect, tripped a heavily pregnant woman and tried to cover it all up by deleting the video from the witness’ tablet, Fox 31 reports.
Levi Frasier was recording the shocking arrest of David Flores for narcotics possession, which took place after police said they saw him stuffing a sock into his mouth that officers suspected was filled with heroin. Officer Charles “Chris” Jones IV can be seen in the video punching Flores in the face repeatedly and so forcefully that his head bounces off the pavement, leaving wounds on the side of his head.
“Spit the drugs out,” a voice can be heard saying, Fox 31 reports, before Jones' repeatedly punches Flores as the man’s girlfriend is heard screaming.
“I used to cage-fight, and I’ve never seen punches harder than that,” Frasier told Fox 31.
However, what happened next shocked him even more. As Flores’ girlfriend, Mayra Lazos-Guerrero, approached, still screaming at officers, an officer can be seen grabbing the woman’s leg and sending her crashing to the ground directly on her stomach. Lazos-Guerrero is seven-and-a-half months pregnant.
“She was just concerned for him; you could clearly hear that,” Frasier said of the woman.
It was at that point that officers spotted Frasier recording and turned their attention to him. He said that they essentially threatened him and took his tablet away. When it was returned, the video could no longer be found.
“The first officer that comes up to ask me about my witness statement brings me to the police car and says, ‘We can do this the easy way or we can do this the hard way,’” Frasier noted. “It was taken as you can either cooperate and give us what you want or we’re going to incarcerate you.”
However, what officers did not realize was that Frasier’s tablet was set to automatically sync to an electronic cloud where the video was safely stored. He retrieved it once he returned home.
According to Fox 31, the police report from the incident claims that the officers attacked Flores to stop him from swallowing evidence and choking. They said they tripped Lazos-Guerrero out of fear that she would kick one of the officers.
“I just don’t see how either swallowing evidence or they're worried about him choking is justifying that degree of force. We don't want you to choke, so we're going to fracture your face instead?" police-conduct expert Mark Carlson told the news station.
Fox 31 reports that Denver police officials did not want to view the video but then eventually released a statement saying that they would “love to talk” to Frasier and view the evidence.
“If he has further information, we want that information,” Lt. Matt Murray told the news station. “And if there is misconduct, we will happily investigate that and report that to the community. This is about transparency, not a cover-up like you were intimating in your teaser.”
Read more at Fox 31.