April 7th, 2009

Man sues Denver police for beating caught on videotape 0

By Carlos Miller
Denver police officer Michael Cordova is now facing prison time for the incident caught on video

Denver police officer Michael Cordova is now facing prison time for the incident caught on video


The crack of John Heaney’s teeth smashing against the sidewalk courtesy of the Denver Police Department sounds like the crack of a bat at a baseball game.

Only this took place outside the baseball stadium at Coor’s Field last year.

And this left Heaney facing a minimum three years in prison for second degree assault on a police officer.

But because a news videographer happened to film the incident, one of the arresting officers is now facing prison time.

Today KUSA-TV announced that Heaney has filed a lawsuit against the arresting officers as well as the other officers at the scene who allowed the beating to happen.

The video shows officers repeatedly hitting and kicking Heaney near Coors Field. Once Heaney was lying on his stomach with his hands held behind his back, the video shows an officer, later identified as Michael Cordova, lift Heaney’s head and smash his face into the ground. Heaney claims the act broke his two front teeth. The cracking teeth can be heard on the tape.

The lawsuit alleges that the officers made false statements about what happened during the arrest because they did not know it was caught on video. The suit also alleges the police made false statements in court about the arrest and did not properly investigate the case.

On April 4, 2008, Heaney was riding his bicycle past the stadium and allegedly ran a red light. The officers, who were in plainclothes because they were working a sting operation against ticket scalpers, yelled at the 57-year-old man to stop.

Police claimed he swung at them first.

Heaney claims police attacked him first.

Naturally, everybody in the legal arena believed the cop’s version of the story.

That is, until the video surfaced.

Before the videotape surfaced, Cordova testified in a court case under oath that Heaney swung and punched at him several times, forcing Cordova to punch back.

Cordova said Heaney “continued to throw wild punches at me, hitting me in the chest area several times forcing me to punch him in the face several times,” according to court records and a Denver Police statement.

When he was asked how Heaney’s two front teeth were broken, Cordova responded, “I have not a clue.”

Once the video surfaced, the Denver District Attorney’s Office dropped the charges against Heaney and filed second degree assault charges against Michael Cordova, the officer who is accused of smashing Heaney’s teeth into the sidewalk.

Last month, Cordova pleaded not guilty to two counts of assault.


Send stories, tips and videos to Carlos Miller.

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