Denver Police seize tablet, delete video of brutal arrest. But it had backed up to “the cloud”
- NOVEMBER 28, 2014
THE Denver cops punched a man in the face and bounced his head off the pavement. They tripped his pregnant wife — and then saw they were being filmed. What happened next has the “land of the free” in uproar.
Late in August, Levi Frasier saw a violent scene unfolding on the street before him. So he decided to use his tablet to record it.
As plain-clothed men repeatedly punch a Latino man in the face, they can be heard shouting: “Spit the drugs out! Spit the drugs out!”
In the background, a woman is screaming “stop” in Spanish. Two uniformed officers rush up and help restrain the man — and knock the feet out from beneath the visibly pregnant 25-year-old. She lands on her stomach and face.
Some 55 seconds later, someone shouted “camera”.
A police officer stormed up to the witness, who was white, snatching his device from his hands and threatens him with arrest.
The officers’ victims lay writhing on the ground behind them.
Strong arm of the law
“When he took it, I said, ‘Hey! You can’t do that. You need a warrant for that!’ and he said, ‘What program did you take the video with? Where is that?’” Frasier later told Fox 31 News.
The police officer proceeded to search through his files.
Frasier says he filled out a witness statement — which didn’t mention the excessive violence or his tablet — “under duress”.
“The first officer that comes up to ask me about my witness statement brings me to the police car and says we could do this the easy way or we could do this the hard way,” Fraser said. “It was taken as ‘You can either cooperate and give us what we want or we’re going to incarcerate you.’
“It was survival mode. It was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to make it out of here. Not going to go to jail today for something I didn’t have anything to do with,’” Frasier said.
When police eventually returned his tablet, the video evidence was gone.
“I couldn’t believe it. My heart dropped,” Frasier said. “I know I just shot that video, like it’s not on there now?”
Frasier had forgot he’d set his tablet to automatically upload files to the “cloud”, external storage services fed by mobile communications devices such as 4G phone and Wi-Fi links.
The video file had jumped to safety over the airwaves before the police officer found it — ready to be accessed anywhere at any time.
Frasier only synchronised his tablet with his electronic “cloud” storage when he got home. The video file reappeared.
In light of recent nationwide protests over police brutality and lack of accountability, Frasier took the footage to the local TV station early this week.
The story of its seizure (not the assault) has evoked national outrage.
A case of two tales
Denver Police deny having seen the footage days after it was offered to them for comment.
They’re saying they won’t take any action until Frasier presents himself at a police station to file a formal complaint.
The police version of the story is this:
A pair of plain-clothed police officers spotted a suspected drug dealer stick a white sock in his mouth when he noticed them approaching.
The officers then “assisted” the suspect — David Flores — out of his car before they “fell to the ground”. Two further officers, this time uniformed, arrived as backup.
The four officers then say they punched Flores up to six times in the face “in order to keep him from choking”. He was taken to hospital for his injuries.
His pregnant wife — Mayra — had to be tripped because officers were convinced she was about to kick them, their report states.
The seizure of the video footage? Not mentioned.
Frasier still has to present himself before police before they will address that one.
“We would love to talk with him (Frasier) if he has further information,” Denver commander Matt Murray told Fox 31. “We are not covering anything up. There is no cover up whatsoever, so let me just put that to rest. That’s irresponsible and baseless.”