KEY POINTS

  • Aaron Hernandez, 60, accused Denver police officers of beating him during his arrest in 2019
  • Body camera footage showed the officers forcing Hernandez to the ground as he shouted in pain
  • The officers were also accused of inaccurately describing their actions in their arrest reports

Police officers of Denver, Colorado have been accused of beating a 60-year-old man, who was not suspected of any crime, and inaccurately describing their actions during the arrest in reports.

Aaron Hernandez's attorneys said the officers used excessive force against their client during his arrest on June 30, 2019, local newspaper The Denver Post first reported, citing a federal lawsuit filed against the city Tuesday.

"That was assault against me for me doing nothing" Hernandez, who had no prior criminal history in the state, was quoted as saying Wednesday.

"I told them I couldn’t do anything at all and then all of a sudden I’m on the ground getting beat up, getting hit in the face. It was brutal," he explained.

Officers Michael O'Neill, Jayme Larson and Vance Johnson had approached the vehicle Hernandez and his son, Aaron Hernandez Jr., were in after O'Neill ran through the car's plates and discovered the registered owner, the younger Hernandez, had a warrant, a police report provided by Hernandez's attorneys at Baumgartner Law stated.

Body camera footage of the arrest showed that the father and son were still sitting in their car when the officers approached. The older Hernandez then attempted to get out of the passenger side door while an officer was right beside their vehicle.

Larson could be heard making a disapproving noise as Hernandez tried to exit the vehicle before grabbing the elderly man's hands and pulling him away from the car. Hernandez repeatedly told the officer that he was in pain during the encounter.

Another officer, Johnson, joined Larson in holding Hernandez against the vehicle before the two forced the man to the ground, the footage showed. The body camera fell to the ground during the struggle, with Hernandez's son pleading with officers to "don't do that to my dad" while his father was telling officers he was in pain.

Both Hernandez and his son informed officers he had just undergone surgery during the arrest. According to Hernandez, the elbow to his face broke an orbital bone in his eye socket and has permanently damaged his vision.

In a report of the incident, Larson wrote that she punched Hernandez in the side after he kicked her. Johnson, meanwhile, wrote in his report that he elbowed Hernandez in the face after arriving and seeing the two struggling, additionally alleging that the older Hernandez had kicked him in the groin.

"Based upon his observed demeanor, my impression was that if he exited the vehicle he would attempt to interfere with the arrest. In a non-confrontational tone, I attempted to de-escalate the situation by placing my hands out and advising him to remain seated inside the vehicle," Larson wrote in her report.

"Hernandez Sr. refused to remain seated and stood up, advancing towards me. I observed Hernandez Sr. lift his right wrist and begin to ball it into a fist, so I immediately grabbed it to simply control it," she added.

Body camera footage, however, showed that Hernandez neither took a step toward Larson nor did he ball his fist. The officer also did not tell him to remain seated inside his vehicle.

When Hernandez asked for the officers' names, they told him it would be on their arrest paperwork, as seen in the video. The footage also showed that several police officers standing around were laughing after both men were arrested, as per The Denver Post.

According to O'Neill's use of force report on the incident, he recommended no further investigation into the arrest, additionally claiming there was no way the officers could have handled the situation better and that the officers had displayed "professionalism and restraint."

Hernandez was jailed for three days following his arrest, court records showed. Denver prosecutors charged him with second and third-degree assault, which were dropped nine months later.

"Officer Larson and Officer Johnson caused Mr. Hernandez’s prosecution and confinement by intentionally making false statements in their police reports which directly led to the charges against Mr. Hernandez," the lawsuit stated.

"The Defendant officers did this in order to justify their gratuitous beating of Plaintiff, a disabled elderly man, and give them cover for inflicting visually disturbing injuries."

According to Birk Baumgartner, Hernandez's attorney, none of the officers were disciplined for the incident. His client said the officers should not be allowed to work in law enforcement.

"I told them the truth and they didn’t accept it," Hernandez was quoted as saying. "I just want people to know there are good cops and bad cops, and the ones that are bad need to be dealt with in a different way."

bodyworn-794101_1920 Representation. Footage of the incident was captured by a body camera, which showed the officers forcing 60-year-old Aaron Hernandez into the ground as he kept telling them he was in pain. Photo: Pixabay