Footage of Greeley police chokehold released after media challenge
Body camera footage released Friday in the case of a police officer accused of using a chokehold during an arrest shows him putting his arm around a man's neck and holding it there for about 10 seconds shortly after handcuffing him.
While holding the standing man around his neck during the June 7 arrest at a city building in Greeley, Officer Kenneth Amick accused him of trying to grab his hands. The man denied it, his voice distorted, while still in the hold. Amick released the chokehold after another officer stepped toward them and said, “Take it easy. Take it easy. Take it easy."
A judge ordered the release of the video on Thursday, siding with a coalition of news media. The coalition argued that it should be released under a Colorado law enacted this year in response to nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. It generally requires that footage be made public, upon request, when a complaint is lodged against a police officer.
Amick, who is charged with second-degree assault, is scheduled to enter a plea in the case on Oct. 22. His lawyer, David Goddard, declined to comment on the allegations against him or the release of the footage.
Weld County District Court Judge Vincente Geraldo Vigil had earlier blocked the release of footage after Amick and prosecutors argued it could prejudice a potential jury. On Thursday, he ruled that concerns about the footage’s influence on jurors can be dealt with during jury selection, KDVR-TV reported.
Amick, who was charged with second-degree assault, is scheduled to enter a plea in the case on Oct. 22. His lawyer, David Goddard, declined to comment on the allegations against him or the release of the footage.
One of three officers visible on the footage tells the man arrested that someone had hit the panic alarm at the building because of statements the man had made. After finding out the man has an arrest warrant on a vandalism charge, Amick puts him under arrest and searches him. The man accuses Amick of doing “bodily harm” to him and asks Amick whether he should be making him laugh or smile.
Amick put the man in a chokehold as he was walking the handcuffed man out of the building.
Last year, Colorado lawmakers banned the use of chokeholds by law enforcement as part of a sweeping police reform bill passed in the days following Floyd’s killing.
The body camera law requires footage to be released within 21 days if a complaint is filed against an officer. It allows for prosecutors, officers and police departments to request delays when criminal cases are pending.
Rachael Johnson, a Colorado-based attorney for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, had argued in an objection to the July order that “Coloradans have a significant interest in the disclosure of information about police officers who use excessive force, especially when an officer places a citizen in a chokehold or neck restraints.”
The media coalition represented by Johnson includes KDVR-TV, KUSA-TV, KMGH-TV, KCNC-TV, The Associated Press, The Gazette of Colorado Springs and The Denver Gazette.
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