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Navy vet chokes officer, refuses to follow commands in intense body cam video


Kieran Nicholson
The Denver Post

Brutal police body camera footage of the death of an unarmed 32-year-old Navy veteran who fought with three Aurora officers for seven minutes, and who was shocked with a Taser multiple times, was released Monday night.

David Baker, 32, died Dec. 17 when police restrained him face down, sitting on him as they handcuffed him.

Police Chief Nick Metz narrates the body camera footage, telling viewers what they are about to see.

When officers first arrive, Baker is choking his brother-in-law inside an apartment. A struggle inside the apartment, with Baker and officers spills outside.

Metz tells viewers that Baker, at one point, choked an officer. At another point, Baker tried to take an officer’s Taser, “which can be used as a lethal weapon.”

As the incident unfolded, before Baker was subdued, Baker’s wife, who was separated from him, can be heard screaming, repeatedly: “Stop! Stop! Stop!”

A police officer, a woman, and another officer, a man, repeatedly command Baker to: “Get down, get down on the ground.” He refuses. The battle goes on.

Crying, Baker’s wife pleads with him to go down. “Please do it for your son.” The fight continues.

Baker, exhausted and just prior to finally going down, screams over and over again. “Help! Help! Help!”

Officers talked about putting Baker in a “hobble,” a police restraint that bounds the waist and legs together, but that didn’t happen, Metz says on the video.

“An officer observes that they do not believe that Mr. Baker is breathing, but a different officer can feel a pulse,” Metz says of the incident.

The Denver Post in a Colorado Open Records request, asked for the video footage this spring but was denied. At the time, concerns over images of juveniles inside the apartment, in part, led to the denial, police said.

“Due to the heightened media interest in this case, our agency was tasked with determining if the privacy interests of the involved parties outweigh the public purpose to be served in releasing this video footage. The deceased male and his surviving family members, in addition to juveniles present at the scene, all have varying expectations of privacy interests,” police said in denying the earlier request, dated April 16.

“To protect these individuals from unnecessary harassment and public scrutiny, while preserving the victims’ privacy and personal dignity, it was decided the privacy interests of the involved individuals outweigh any public purpose to be served by disclosure of the videos.”

The Arapahoe County coroner ruled that Baker died of restraint asphyxia — he couldn’t breathe because of the officers on top of him and the way he was positioned. The coroner ruled the death a homicide and said heart disease and obesity likely contributed to his death.

Police warn viewers that the body camera footage is “disturbing” and may be unsuitable for some.

Toward the end of the video segment, Metz says: “Mr. Baker is transported to the hospital where he succumbs to his injuries.”


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