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Activist say body cam video shows Denver Police using excessive force on an unarmed homeless man, but former SWAT calls it ‘textbook use of force’. “He took an innocent step forward and got tased,” said John Holland, the man’s attorney. The incident happened back in June after police were called to the scene on reports of a fight between homeless men. In the video, the officer fires his Taser less than ten seconds after his first command. Holland said he believes it was clearly excessive force, and the officer did not give his client, Gregory Heard, enough time to comply. “[It was] An unharmed person who wasn’t threatening him,” said Holland. Heard is currently in jail on second-degree assault charges for the fight that prompted the police response. “Most people who run into police are being suspected of something, the question is what did they do while being suspected by police — this case is about police abuse of power,” he said.
“The commands were clear, he should have understood him, he’s holding a Taser at him,” a former Jefferson County SWAT team leader said. When asked “Would you have done anything different if you were in this situation?”. Whitus said “No, that was actually a perfect use of force,”. He called the officer’s action “textbook use of force” and pointed to the fact the man didn’t listen to two of the officer’s commands before using non-lethal force. “He stands up and you tell him to stop twice and he keeps coming, he’s a threat,” explained Whitus. “At the Denver Justice Project we believe it didn’t require use of force at all,” said Alex Landau, a co-founder of the Denver Justice Project. Activists like Landau see the video differently, and like Heard’s attorney, are now pushing for action. “This is just one more example of police running amuck,” said Holland. Holland said they plan to file a federal excessive force lawsuit seeking damages. Denver Police said they could not comment on the video because the case is an on-going investigation.
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