August 12, 2008

Shock Video: Man Beaten By Undercover Denver Police, Revealed Just Ahead Of DNC

**Update 2--videos have been removed due to the "autoplay" feature and slow loading times. Check the links provided for both videos.

**Note--the embed code on the video is set to "autoplay"--scroll to pause, and then play at your convenience.

"Had I not been rolling the camera, and no one else was rolling the camera, it might have just been swept under the rug"--TV producer Greg Prinkey, on video of the beating that led to dropped charges and has prompted an internal investigation within the Denver Police Department

The video evidence is so strong that the original charges have been dropped:
The Denver District Attorney's office has dropped its case against a man who was facing three years in prison for assault, after 9Wants to Know obtained and showed prosecutors a videotape of the man's arrest.

The Denver Police Department has also started an internal investigation.
No doubt protest groups will cite this as evidence that it will be the law enforcement charged with DNC security that will foment violence, not the "non-violent" protestors:
On the video, which was shot outside Coors Field on the home opener of the Colorado Rockies game on April 4, undercover Denver Police detectives hit, kick and choke John Heaney.

"They both unloaded on me and I started seeing stars and the whole thing was just bam, bam, bam after that," said Heaney. "Someone had a chokehold and they were all on top of me and I couldn't breathe and I thought I was going to die."
The video came from an unlikely source--a film crew for local sports TV out videotaping the Colorado Rockies' home opener:
A local sports TV crew was videotaping the opening day of the Rockies when they saw and videotaped the arrest.

"The thing that kind of made everybody gasp was when the officer took the back of the guy's head and shoved it to the ground on his face," said TV producer Greg Prinkey. "He was not resisting. It was totally uncalled for."

When Prinkey saw men beating Heaney, he ran in to stop the fight. The video shows that's when the officers yelled, "Hey, we're cops! Get the (expletive) out of here!"

Prinkey gave the videotape of the arrest to 9NEWS.

"Had I not been rolling the camera, and no one else was rolling the camera, it might have just been swept under the rug," Prinkey said.
Both videos have been removed due to uncontrollable and slow autoplay. See the links above for the unedited video and 9NEWS' report.

The video appears to easily contradict the earlier reports given by the Denver detectives involved:
Before the Denver detectives knew about the videotape, they wrote reports and were deposed in court about what happened. Both officers said Heaney was throwing "wild punches" at them, hit the officers in the face and chest and continued to attack them, even when they had him on the ground.

Under oath, Cordova and Costigan also denied knowing anything about Heaney's broken teeth.

Heaney's attorney Lonn Heymann asked Cordova in court, "Was there a point at which somebody slammed his face into the ground?"

Cordova answered, "Absolutely not."

"How did Mr. Heaney's front teeth get broken," asked Heymann.

Cordova replied, "I have not a clue."
That doesn't appear to follow from the video reports.

There are other witnesses who appear to corroborate Heaney's version of the story:
"When you start seeing that the officers are making arguments that are directly contradicted by this videotape, it raises questions about how believable the police officers are," Heymann told 9NEWS.

The Denver Police Department did not interview any civilian witnesses in their investigation of Heaney's arrest. However, 9NEWS interviewed three witnesses who all say Heaney did not hit the officers.
Fallout?

Certainly. Evidence of a police beating revealed with less than two weeks until the start of the DNC is a huge blow to the city, after months of back-and-forth between local law enforcement and protestors over tactics and security plans that have done little to ease concerns that 1968 may be recreated in Denver's streets.

Protestors have already launched the "law enforcement to blame" meme for any potential DNC conflagration. This video will only add fuel to that fire, and will certainly be used, if not as evidence, then as a contextual element for any mass arrests or other actions as a result of DNC protests and activities.

Somewhere, Glenn Spagnuolo is smiling.

**Update--Cordova and Costigan have received official commendations in the past from the DPD in 2004 and 2005, respectively, as well as numerous commendatory letters.

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