By Brian Maass

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson said bodycam video released Tuesday appears to show one of her former officers, Levi Huffine, “punishing” a female prisoner who was handcuffed, hobbled and rode upside down in the back of a patrol car for more than 20 minutes following her arrest in August 2019.

(credit: CBS)

“In my opinion she was just tortured back there. It makes me sick,” said Wilson after watching the video again Tuesday, during a civil service commission appeal hearing for Officer Levi Huffine, who was fired over the incident. “We are not judge, jury and executer,” said Wilson. “We are not to treat people inhumanely like they don’t matter.

“And he is lucky she did not die in the backseat of that car. Because he would be — in my opinion — in an orange jumpsuit right now,” said Wilson.

Huffine arrested Shataeah Kelly, 28, on Aug. 27, 2019, on municipal charges resulting from a fight. On his bodycam video, Officer Huffine decides to hobble Kelly — tying her handcuffed hands to her feet when he said she tried to escape from his patrol car by trying to open door handles in the backseat.

Wilson testified the door handles in the backseat are inoperable and in her opinion, hobbling Kelly was unnecessary. She said she felt Huffine was “punishing” the prisoner who had also been verbally abusive toward the officer.

“The hobbling in my opinion was another form of punishment,” said Wilson.

The video shows Kelly slipping off the backseat, head first, after a few minutes, as the officer was driving her to jail. She ended up with her head on the floor of the car and her legs in the air. She rode that way for 21 minutes, according to an internal affairs investigation. Wilson said Kelly could have easily died of positional asphyxia.

The video played Tuesday shows Kelly begging for help during the entire drive.

“Officer please, I can’t breathe,” says the woman. “I don’t want to die like this. I’m about to break my neck,” cries Kelly.

Officer Huffine does not appear to interact or respond to the nonstop cries for help. Kelly alternately screams, sobs and cries.

“My neck is killing me dude. Help me, I can’t breathe.”

At one point Kelly can be heard saying, “I never felt so much racism in my life.”

Chief Wilson said she lost count of how many times Kelly asked for help. Wilson said she was particularly struck at how panicked and desperate Kelly seemed to be at one point, saying, “I beg you master.”

Wilson said that was one of the most bothersome moments on the tape.

“As an African-American female she denigrates herself to the point she actually calls him ‘master.’ To me that is disgusting,” said Wilson.

RELATED: Aurora Officer Fired Over Video Speaks: ‘I Told Her To Shut Up’

In February, Wilson fired Huffine, even though a Chief’s Review Board had recommended a 180 hour suspension, which Wilson overruled.

Huffine has appealed his termination. When the hearing concludes, Aurora’s four member civil service commission will issue a written ruling either upholding the Huffine firing, or potentially giving him his job back with a lesser penalty.

Aurora dropped all criminal charges against Kelly.

During the hearing, Wilson said criminal charges were considered for Officer Huffine. She said she conferred with the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s office but the decision was ultimately made that since Kelly did not suffer serious injuries or die during the ride to jail, criminal charges were not called for.

“If that doesn’t make you sick watching that video, I don’t know,” said Wilson.

“It’s beyond human decency for me,” said the chief. “It’s unacceptable. I don’t know what else to say.”

Brian Maass

Comments (12)
  1. Love, that is all we need.

  2. Leslie says:

    So tired of not hearing the whole story. The officer had a body cam. What did she do to warrant this behavior? What was the story before she was put in the back of the car and tried to get out by pulling on the handles? Maybe this was done to keep her from doing harm to the patrol car. It is not her right to do damage to property that tax payers paid for. Maybe she deserved to be hobbled. Maybe she did not. Just tell us the whole story!

  3. Astro Wagon says:

    Bottom line….if you are a loose cannon….one day you might come across a loose cannon….and one of you can end up losing your life. Regardless it being a cop or someone that wont put up with your cr*p.

  4. Gregory Silver says:

    If someone is resisting arrest and fighting with police what right do they have to humane treatment? If you support BLM without knowing what that organization really stands for? You have a much bigger problem in life .And that problem is the rest of us who will not allow Marxism to rake control of this Nation.

  5. pmcall says:

    Kudos to the police chief for firing this officer. His behavior was sickening. I hope the civil board will back up the chief and not give this man power again to mistreat more citizens. Chief Wilson is right – what he did is beyond human decency.

  6. It triggers me alot still seeing humans behave this way, life has so much to offer beyond our differences. People behave like toys set together to impress whoever they respect, while if we try to look beyond our very existence we are forgetting we all are just passerbys of this world.

  7. Chip says:

    Some of these officers just haven’t yet realized that many of these ghetto rats just aren’t that smart and you have to make allowances for the stupid things they do or else your a$$ will be in the sling.

    1. Caroline says:

      Chip, you can change your life as a ghetto hoodrat if you go back to school and educate yourself and earn an honest living for once in your life. I guess the first step is that you realize you are a ghetto hoodrat and that you aren’t very smart

  8. Joe Bloe says:

    Just another ghetto lottery recipient…….

    1. Caroline says:

      It’s a shame you know that much about yourself, but wont bother to get a job so you can get off welfare, Joe.

      1. Joe Bloe says:

        Caroline, your comment makes ZERO sense. Are you triggered much? Does this comment upset you? Seek help.

  9. TomTancredoFan says:

    The hobbling was definitely unnecessary, doors are locked back there so escape was impossible. Did the cop assume she was laying down on the backseat and being a drama queen so he never looked to see her head was actually in the foot well? Does he have a history of complaints against him or is his record clean? What’s his side of the story? Was it all intentional on his part, or is he a lazy negligent cop marking time until retirement? I’m guessing the police union will get his job back with just a suspension, but he’s up there in years so if he’s not up to the hard task of policing he should call it a career and go fishing.

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