The bodycam footage of a brutal policing incident that occurred in Aurora, Colorado last summer finally came to light following a hearing on the event. The 37-minute video captured the aggressive arrest of 28-year-old Shataean Kelly in the troubled Denver suburb on August 27, 2019.
Aurora made news for the death of Elijah McClain at the hands of law enforcement, the officers involved in his death posting photos mocking McClain’s death and again for handcuffing a group of black children and forcing them to lie on hot pavement. In both cases, no crimes were committed.
Kelly, a Black woman, was arrested for fighting by Aurora Police Department Officer Leve Huffine.
As the video captured, Huffine hogtied Kelly and placed her in the back of a police car. When she later slipped into a face down position on the drive to jail, she struggled to breathe and begged Luffine—for 21 minutes—to not let her asphyxiate and die.
Throughout the middle portion of the video while Kelly was hogtied in the car, she repeated words that have become all-too-familiar of late.
“Please help me up, officer! I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe, officer!”
“I’m about to break my neck. I don’t want to die like this!”
At one point things became so bad that Kelly’s pleas for safety took a particularly desperate turn.
She yelled, “I beg you, Master” in hopes that it might work. Luffine did nothing to assist her out of that position.
You can see news coverage of the released footage here:
Initial reactions to the video on Youtube were completely appalled.
Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson—who fired Huffine in February 6 months after the incident—ardently denounced his conduct throughout the incident according to Atlanta Black Star:
“In my opinion she was just tortured back there. It makes me sick.”
“We are not judge, jury and [executioner]. We are not to treat people inhumanely like they don’t matter.”
“As an African-American female she denigrates herself to the point she actually calls him ‘master.’ To me that is disgusting.”
While Aurora officials considered charging Huffine with crimes following the incident, ultimately no charges were brought as Kelly was not injured during the event.
Following his termination by Wilson in February, Huffine appealed the decision, thus leaving his fate in the hands of the city’s civil service commission, a four-person entity.
It was during a hearing held by that commission on September 29 that the video was shown and Wilson shared her criticism.
Outrage toward the incident resounded across social media.
Others were particularly angry that Luffine was not charged with a crime.
He should be in an orange jumpsuit right now.
— Gina F (@GinaStevens84) October 1, 2020
Alas, the justice ideals of social media do not necessarily align with the decisions of the actual institutions at play.