A homeless man's attorney has released a police body cam video of a Denver officer using a Taser on his client, Greg Heard, on June 3, 2016 (video below).
According to Westword, Heard's lawyer, John Holland, released the video because "it's a matter of public concern. It should be out there, so people can understand that they should be very, very careful when confronting police officers armed with Tasers. Because they will be Tased -- and many people have died from Tasing. It can be deadly." Holland is filing a lawsuit against the Denver police department.
Holland's law office requested the video several times, but were turned down by the police department, according to Holland: "They said they were having an official investigation, which they probably weren't. I'm not aware of any Internal Affairs findings or investigation of the officers."
The video was released to Heard's public defender as part of his criminal legal case, and, subsequently, a copy was released by Holland.
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According to the police report, officers Greg Dulayev and Adrian Enriquez were answering a call about an assault in progress and arrived to find "an assault occurring in the bushes where a black man was punching a white male."
The report stated that Heard was "active/aggressive" when he crawled out from under a bush "and did not comply with Officer Dulayev's commands to stop advancing on him. Officer Dulayev had to take several steps backwards to avoid being potentially assaulted by Heard. Heard did not stop walking towards Officer Dulayev, at which time he deployed his Taser at the front of the suspect."
Dulayev is heard on the video stating: "Crawl out. Crawl out on your hands and knees. I'll f******* Tase you. Turn around. Stop right there. Stop."
Heard crawls out from the under the bushes, and takes a couple steps forward before Dulayev fires his Taser at Heard's stomach.
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Heard screams and collapses, Dulayev gets on top of him and he yells: "Stop resisting. Stop resisting. Put your hands behind your back. You'll get Tased again!"
Heard states several times that he cannot breathe, but Dulayev ignores his pleas.
Dulayev eventually tells Heard: "You're talking, so you can breathe. Relax now. It's over. It's done. Okay?"
However, people can still utter short phrases when short of breath. The Mayo Clinic warns on its website that people should seek emergency medical treatment for an asthma attack if they experience "the inability to speak more than short phrases due to shortness of breath."
Later in the video, Dulayev is still on top of Heard and continues: "Why you do that, man? All I asked you to do was come out. Was it a bad decision on your part?"
Dulayev finally gets off of Heard, who is still struggling to breathe. Dulayev immediately starts searching and questioning the handcuffed man, but does not read him his rights first.
While Heard gets treatment from a paramedic, Dulayev insists that Heard came at him and kept coming.
Holland, who is preparing Heard's civil complaint, stated: "We made a demand to the city and said, "What are you doing with this? The net effect is, you didn't give him a chance to surrender. He was in mid-step. You didn't let him finish the step when you gave him the warning and then you Tased him.'"
The police department's Deputy Chief of Administration Matt Murray discussed the department's use-of-force policy with Westword on Jan. 18:
We have often taught, "Don't give up ground. Don't retreat." What happens, especially if you're dealing with someone -- and we often are -- who may have mental-health issues or alcohol issues or impairment issues, is that standing your ground may escalate the situation ... You don't just go home.
It's really important that people realize we're not saying we're not going to enforce the law. We're not just driving away. But we may have moving perimeters. We're going to slow things down and get more resources in there, appropriate resources, so we can deal with the situation. There shouldn't be a line in the sand. If you need to move back a little bit, move back a little bit, or move forward. Use your head.