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Police in Denver, Colorado punched a man named David Nelson Flores in the head repeatedly, hoping to recover drugs they believed were in his mouth. When his pregnant girlfriend, Mayra Lazos-Guerrero, tried to stop the beating, they knocked her to the ground. She falls on her face and large, pregnant stomach.
Then police officers turn their attention to the real threat in this situation: the bystander with the tablet, who is recording the beating. Levi Frasier stopped to record the encounter, but soon found himself on the receiving end of some very aggressive policing. He claims the officers took his tablet against his protests and request for a warrant and attempted to delete the video of the incident.
When Frasier later synced the device to the cloud, the video re-appeared. Frasier sent it to the local news station, which aired it after offering the Denver Police Department a chance to review and respond to the video (an offer they refused).
The news segment originally aired by Denver FOX 31, which includes the video of the beating/arrest is below:
An internal review has already found no wrongdoing on the part of the officers involved. Flores and Lazos-Guerrero, who face drug and child abuse charges (because there was a child in the vehicle at the time of the arrest/altercation), have failed to appear in court. The Denver Police Department has requested in the media that Frasier turn over the tablet to Internal Investigations so that they can determine if the video was deleted at some point.
While many are quick to defend the actions of the law enforcement officers present, the force being used was clearly meant to recover evidence and not to protect the suspect from himself (as the officers claim was the case). The presumption of innocence should not end simply because the offense involves drugs.
This kind of violence should not be commonplace in arrests and police interactions, and the war on drugs has made it all too easy for citizens to make their neighbors an “other.” Instead of being outraged at the brutal beating Flores received while not posing any threat to the officers or others, far too many people are quick to say that as an alleged drug dealer or user, he got what he deserved.
What Flores deserved, like all American citizens accused of breaking the law, was civil treatment, the right to an unbiased jury trial, and a fair sentence that reflects the severity of his crime. Instead, he received a serious beating and as many charges as the officers involved could think to throw at him. Like so many recent news stories, this incident serves to highlight the very real need for grassroots reform of law enforcement in this country, from culture to practice.
For previous Ladybud articles about police brutality, click here
Photo Credit: Regroce under (CC-BY-SA-3.0) via Wikimedia Commons