AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – It has been a week-and-a-half since Kyle Vinson was taken to the hospital after being pistol-whipped and choked by an Aurora police officer during an arrest, and the stitches are out. But the 29-year-old says he’s still confused about why he was, in his words, “brutalized.”
Just after he left a Starbucks on July 23, Vinson says he was suddenly ordered to sit down by Officer John Haubert and Officer Francine Martinez, who have since been arrested for their alleged actions on that day. (Haubert has resigned from the force and Martinez is on leave amid an internal affairs investigation.)
Vinson said he had no idea that he was trespassing. But that’s what the officers told him was happening.
Two other people were also ordered to sit as well, and after all three gave their names, those two ran away. Vinson stayed put and tried to follow orders.
“That’s the mind boggle of it,” Vinson said in an interview with CBS4’s Karen Morfitt on Tuesday.
“I gave him my name, and I’m just waiting. And then the other two ran. And I didn’t even run, I just sat there. And then he just comes up to me and it went from there.”
What went on next was captured by a police body camera, and it is hard to watch for Vinson. When he first saw it he was shocked by how much blood was coming from his head after he’d been hit by Haubert’s pistol.
“He told me to get on the ground and I got on the ground and I was like ‘What did I do?’ And they didn’t tell me what I did.”
“And then before I knew it I was on my face with a hand to the back of my head and a pistol to my head.”
He says they didn’t tell him that they had found there was a warrant out for his arrest. He claims he didn’t actually know he had a warrant for a judgement probation.
“I thought if I comply, which I did, everything will be fine. And it was the complete opposite of that. He started hitting me within a matter of seconds.”
Vinson said one officer was telling him to roll over and the other was telling him not to move or he’d be shot, so he was confused amid the commotion. And he says he never fought back as he was struck repeatedly with the pistol and then choked. Vinson was also surprised the other officer who was present didn’t tell her partner to stop.
“I thought maybe she would’ve said stop. Or intervene.”
While the violence was going on, Vinson said his life flashed before his eyes.
“I (was) thinking about my life and if I’m going to see another day, and I’m so blessed to still be here. I thought I was going to die several times, from when the moment I had the gun to the back of my head and then when I was on my back before he hit me with the gun, when the gun was pointed to my chest. I thought I was going to get shot right there,” he said.
Vinson said he was surprised by how much “hate” seemed to be driving the officer.
He was treated at a local hospital after being taken into custody. A gash on his head was stitched up. Vinson still has headaches, though, and blurred vision, and his chest really hurts from the officer’s gun hitting him in the chest.
He’s seen the reports of Haubert and Martinez being arrested, and Aurora’s police chief apologizing — which he appreciates — but Vinson says it’s not enough. He wants to see more change in policing, especially for people who fall into two categories that he does.
“I feel like homeless people and people of color, they automatically think we’re up to something bad. Like, they just automatically put the spotlight on you.”
“I want to be the one that can try to change that,” he said.
Vinson says he only very recently experienced homelessness and was unhoused at the time of his arrest. He also said he feels lucky he didn’t wind up like another young man of color from Aurora who died after being arrested — Elijah McClain.