A police sergeant in the Denver suburb of Aurora has been suspended and is under investigation after he was captured on body camera footage yelling and cursing at a teen driver who had been pulled over on suspicion of speeding.
Officers put the 17-year-old girl in handcuffs and seated her on a curb after her male passenger ran away, dropping a loaded, stolen gun on the ground, police said.
The footage of the June 29, 2021 event, made public Wednesday, shows her becoming distraught and upset that the male, described by an officer as the father of the teen’s baby, ran away. She said she is worried about their son, who was not in the car, and repeatedly asks for police to call her mother.
As an officer talks to girl who was pulled over, the footage shows Sgt. Ed Acuti turn from examining the recovered gun nearby and yelling at her to act like an adult. The girl screams something unintelligible and Acuti says “then shut your f——— mouth.”
In a statement, Aurora police said that “Sgt. Acuti yells at the female using profane and unprofessional language not consistent with the training or expectations of an Aurora Police officer.”
The video then shows Acuti and the girl cursing at each other, the girl screaming repeatedly and saying: “This is what y’all do. Y’all kill people.” She apologizes a short time later and says she’s scared. An officer soon calls her mother.
Another officer reported Acuti’s behavior and, after viewing the footage, Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson ordered an internal affairs investigation, police said in the statement. Acuti was placed on paid administrative leave and will remain on leave pending the outcome of the investigation, the statement said.
“In every interaction, we must strive to treat individuals with respect and remain professional,” Wilson said in the department’s statement. “I commend the officers that are unwilling to compromise their integrity and continue to report misconduct that jeopardizes the work we, as an agency, are trying to accomplish with our community.”
An email sent to the leader of Acuti’s union seeking comment was not immediately answered.
Aurora police have been under scrutiny since the 2019 death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man, after his arrest gained widespread attention during protests over police brutality and racial justice last year.
Three police officers and two paramedics were indicted in September on manslaughter and other charges in McClain’s death. In July an officer was charged with assault and menacing after body camera footage showed him beating a Black man with his gun. He later resigned.
Last year, Aurora officers were investigated but cleared of criminal wrongdoing after detaining four Black girls at gunpoint on the ground, two of them in handcuffs, after pulling over a car wrongly believed to be stolen.
In the latest case, the teen driver is white and Acuti is white, police said.