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Aurora police changing protocols for internal investigations as officer faces potential criminal charges

The Aurora Police Department is changing its protocols for officers accused of crimes as one of its members faces potential charges for slamming an individual in custody into a hospital floor.

Body-worn camera footage released by the department on Thursday shows an officer in August escorting a suspect in handcuffs out of a hospital. As they approached the exit, the officer tells the man to stop resisting before throwing him to the ground.

“You (expletive), you broke my face!” the man said as a pool of blood formed around his head. “I didn’t do nothing.”

The officer countered that “I had no desire to do that but you tensed up and started to pull away.”

This incident, though, wasn’t reviewed by Aurora police until mid-January — four months later, the department stated in a news release.

The interim chief of police, Art Acevedo, requested the Colorado Bureau of Investigation conduct a separate criminal investigation while the department undertakes its own internal probe. CBI’s investigation is complete, police say, and was forwarded Thursday to the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office for consideration. The internal investigation is ongoing.

An Aurora police spokesperson wouldn’t identify the officer in question, saying the individual was reassigned on Feb. 2 and is currently working in a nonenforcement capacity, pending the outcomes of the twin investigations.

Colorado’s Peace Officer Standards and Training database, which shows which law enforcement personnel are the subjects of criminal investigations, lists Aurora Officer William Oxford.

Aurora police said in the news release that the case has prompted the department to change its protocols for officers facing criminal allegations. In the past, the agency would wait until a criminal investigation was complete before launching an internal investigation.

“That is not a good practice,” Acevedo said in the statement. “We will now conduct a parallel internal affairs investigation and take our own independent action based on our findings.”

All use-of-force incidents, police said, will now be immediately investigated and reviewed by an officer’s supervisor, traveling up the chain of command. If the incident is unclear, the case will be elevated to the Force Investigations Unit for immediate review, the news release said.

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