By Jeff Todd
AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– The Aurora Police Department will convene an independent review board to examine claims of excessive force by officers who tased an innocent man.
The incident in question happened on Feb. 19. Officers were responding to an apartment complex at 1445 Dallas Street after a report of a man pointing a gun at a 6-year-old child.
“While they were in route and very close to that location they found two people clearly having some kind of a dispute with each other,” said Crystal McCoy with the Aurora Police Department. “You can see how the officer had asked for them to comply with his orders and then Mr. Kelly, who obviously had some questions, and he was ultimately tased by the officers.”
Reports show Darsean Kelley was talking with his cousin Izear Brown when officers arrived.
A body-worn camera shows an officer responding and Kelley yelling at police asking why he was being detained before the tasing.
“Just as he said ‘I know my rights’ an officer tased him,” said ACLU Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein.
The ACLU represented Kelley after he was charged with failing to comply with a lawful order. The Aurora Municipal Prosecutor dismissed the case in early September.
“This is not the way police should be investigating a situation. The police need facts that amount to reasonable suspicion that crime is afoot. They didn’t have reasonable suspicion. Police were making what is considered an illegal stop. A violation of the Fourth Amendment,” said Silverstein. “This video shows what police should not be doing when they need to calm a situation, when they need to de-escalate.”
Aurora police say an internal use of force board reviewed the incident. The review isn’t public record but police said Sgt. Claude Burns’ actions were “within policy.”
Now with the release of the body-worn camera footage Aurora is having another review with the input from citizens.
“Any time there’s an incident of community interest we can empanel this board which is inclusive of community members to come in and take a look at it and give some recommendations to the chief,” said McCoy.
Silverstein stopped short of saying this was a race-based incident but did says this is an example of the “current contemporary issue about police and citizen interaction.”
“I don’t know if police would have made the stop if they had seen two white men walking down the street. We do know this is another case of two young African American men doing nothing wrong and suddenly police are detaining them and pointing tasers at them,” said Silverstein.
“I don’t have any knowledge of there being any racial profiling in this case,” McCoy said.
Aurora told CBS4 the legal department needed to review the video before making it public. The version broadcast on CBS4 and included in the online story is from the ACLU.
Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.