The Denver Police Department didn't need this. On an evening of largely peaceful protest in the Mile High City after a Ferguson, Missouri grand jury's failure to indict a police officer who shot and killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown, video has surfaced in which a Denver cop can be repeatedly punching a drug suspect in the head, as well as tripping a woman said to have been seven-and-a-half months pregnant. Details and the video below. But first, a warning: The images may disturb some readers.
Fox31 brings us the story, told largely in video shot by Levi Frasier, a bystander to an incident that took place in August near the intersection of West 5th Avenue and Federal Boulevard.
According to Frasier, police approached a vehicle occupied by a man subsequently identified as David Flores when the suspect shoved a white sweat sock into his mouth.
The presumption: The sock contained heroin, and Flores was trying to swallow it.
Shortly thereafter, Officer Charles "Chris" Jones IV and other DPD personnel took Flores to the ground, yelling "Spit the drugs out! Spit the drugs out!" And to assist him doing so, Jones punched Flores in the face six times.
Here's one image from the video....
...and another that offers a closer look at Flores amid the pummeling: As this is going on, a woman with Flores, Mayra Lazos-Guerrero, can be heard screaming. She approaches the scrum and extends her leg, at which point she's tripped to the ground.
Here's one image from that sequence....
...and another: Frasier captured these actions on his tablet, and the officers noticed, with one of them announcing, "Camera." Afterward, Frasier says the officers demanded to take possession of the device and deleted the video. But at home, he was able to sync his tablet to the cloud and retrieve the footage.
Flores, for his part, was badly injured in the melee. Fox31 obtained this shot of him in an ambulance....
...and this one showing a wound on the back of his head, presumably from the impact of his skull on the pavement while he was being slugged: The police report obtained by Fox31 makes no mention of the officers deleting Frasier's video -- and when the station offered to screen it for DPD supervisors, they are said to have declined. However, Commander Matt Murray appears on camera to encourage Frasier to come forward so that the department can investigate the possibility of excessive force and impropriety.
A side note: Fox31 reporter Chris Halsne says he reached out to the DPD two days prior to the package's November 24 airing -- and on November 22, the department tweeted out the following link to the Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics:
ACCURACY (AND ETHICS) MATTER: http://t.co/rftkzKH1Fs
— Denver Police Dept. (@DenverPolice) November 24, 2014
Maybe a coincidence, maybe not.
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By the way, Flores and Lazos-Guerrero are said to have missed their latest court date, and authorities are currently asking for them to surrender.
Here's the Fox31 report, which was a bit glitchy for us. If the clip doesn't play in Google Chrome, try Firefox.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.