AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– More than four months after Aurora officers used force on a suspect in a traffic stop, Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson said she viewed the officer’s body camera video this week and ordered an internal affairs investigation.
“She does not believe the stop met the expectation of professionalism that she expects,” said a statement from APD public information officer Agent Matthew Longshore.READ MORE: Owner Confirms Ice Castles Won't Be In Colorado's High Country This Winter
The stop occurred May 15 just after midnight and moments after Aurora officers say the driver, Preston Nunn III, nearly struck officers with his car. The officers had been involved in a separate traffic stop at Iliff near Buckley.
Aurora police bodycam video obtained by CBS4 shows an Aurora officer approaching Nunn’s car and indicating Nunn, 25, had failed to yield to an emergency vehicle.
“Slow down and get over,” says the officer, who then asks Nunn for his license and registration.
But when Nunn begins to search his car for the paperwork, the officer yells at him to stop digging around in the car, put his hands on his face and the officer pulls his gun.
“The gun started getting close to me,” Nunn said, “I started getting scared personally. I was petrified with that gun.”
As the officer yells at Nunn to comply, the Aurora man eventually gets out of his car, even though police did not ask him to.
An officer can be seen on the videotape tackling Nunn to the ground. Nunn told CBS4 he got out of his car as a means to try to protect a female passenger in the vehicle. On the ground, officers struggle on top of Nunn who they said was resisting.
“This is pathetic,” says Nunn, “This is so crazy. I didn’t do anything.”
During the tussle, Nunn says an officer tasered him twice. After being subdued and handcuffed, an Aurora officer is heard saying to Nunn, “You about got shot.”
Nunn asks, “Why didn’t you shoot me?”
“Glad I didn’t,” says the officer.”READ MORE: 'This Is A Wakeup Call': Colorado Governor Says State Is Running Low On ICU Beds Due To COVID Cases
Nunn was cited for obstructing, resisting arrest, failure to obey an order, having an open container and failure to yield right of way to an emergency vehicle. Police apparently found no weapons in the car. Nunn was on probation for a past firearms case and a drug case.
Aurora police say their Force Review Board looked at the incident in June and suggested additional training for the primary officer involved, including de-escalation, increased communication and traffic stop safety.
This week, Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson watched the videotape for the first time and ordered an internal affairs investigation. Officer Gabriel Nestor was placed on administrative leave, with pay, pending the outcome of the internal affairs investigation.
The incident comes to light in the same month that Colorado’s Attorney General wrapped up an investigation into the APD finding the department had a pattern of racially biased policing and excessive force.
The Aurora Police Association, which represents about 250 of the department’s 690 officers, released a statement Thursday saying, “This is exactly the type of overreaction to the Attorney General’s report that officers have been worried about. They are making it impossible to do police work.”
Alvertis Simmons, Nunn’s godfather and a veteran activist, said, “This was wrong what they did to this man. We don’t trust the Aurora Police Department to police themselves.”
Nunn told CBS4 he would likely file a lawsuit against APD.
Thursday afternoon, the Aurora Police department released a second statement regarding the May 15th incident: The Aurora Police Department is aware of the body-worn camera video CBS4 received. APD did not provide the video. The station received a copy of it from an unknown source.
The traffic stop occurred on May 15, 2021 at 12:18 a.m. Prior to the stop seen on video, officers were conducting a separate traffic stop on Iliff near Buckley when the suspect vehicle came into the officers’ lane, nearly striking them with the car. One of the officers was able to catch up to that vehicle and conduct a traffic stop. That interaction is recorded on the body-worn camera.
While conducting the stop, as seen in the video, the driver was not fully cooperative with the officer’s instructions and repeatedly kept reaching towards concealed parts of his body and his vehicle, ignoring the officer’s commands to stop.
This incident was previously reviewed by the Force Review Board (FRB). Findings from the FRB determined that prescriptive training in a variety of areas should be provided to the officer in the areas of de-escalation, communication and other tactical subjects.
Chief Wilson recognizes the video is troubling to watch irrespective of the contextual circumstances which is why, out of an abundance of caution, she made the decision to initiate a full investigation.MORE NEWS: State Senator Calls for Audit After Out-Of-State Company Gets Big Colorado Construction Projects
Per APD Policy, the officer involved has been placed on administrative leave with pay while the full investigation into this incident is completed.