Horrifying footage has shown a black woman begging for her life and saying 'I can't breathe' as she lies hogtied and upside down for 21 minutes in the back of an Aurora police department cruiser.
The bodycam video released Tuesday shows Shataeah Kelly head down in the foot well of the vehicle pleading with Aurora police officer Levi Huffine to lift her back up on the seat and desperately calling him 'master' as she says she 'doesn't want to die this way'.
'How many times to I have to beg you master? Master, I'll be good,' she says at one point.
The incident took place on August 27 2019 when Huffine arrested Kelly for allegedly refusing to stop fighting with another woman in a park but was released Tuesday as part of a civil service commission appeal hearing for Huffine, who is fighting Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson's decision to fire him over the encounter.
Wilson slammed Huffine saying he 'tortured' Kelly and that it was lucky the black woman didn't die from asphyxiation in the back of his car.
The Aurora Police Department, near Denver, is facing mounting scrutiny after footage emerged earlier this month of another black woman being hogtied by officers back in 2017, allegedly causing her a shoulder injury.
This comes as outrage continues to build over the death of black 23-year-old Elijah McClain who was killed last year when Aurora cops put him in a chokehold and sedated him with ketamine as he was walking home from a convenience store.
Horrifying footage has shown a black woman begging for her life and saying 'I can't breathe' as she lies hogtied and upside down for 21 minutes in the back of an Aurora PD cruiser
Fired Officer Huffine's bodycam video shows the handcuffed Kelly moving around in the back of the police cruiser toward each door, apparently trying to escape, after removing her seat belt.
Huffine tells her he is going to hobble her - linking together handcuffs around her wrists and ankles - for trying to get out of the car.
The cop is seen hogtying her and putting her back in the car.
While hogtied and lying in the back of the cruiser, Kelly, who says she was intoxicated at the time, screams and berates Huffine but then pleads with him not to let her ride that way.
She then slips off the back seat headfirst during the ride, ending up with her head down on the floor behind Huffine's seat with her legs up in the air.
Kelly is heard repeatedly begging the cop to lift her back up on to the seat for more than 20 minutes of the journey.
She is heard saying 'I can't breathe' several times - the very same words uttered by George Floyd, a black father have died in police custody when a white cop knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes back in May.
'Officer please, I can't breathe,' says Kelly between screams and sobs. 'I don't want to die like this. I'm about to break my neck.'
She continues: 'My neck is killing me dude. Help me, I can't breathe.'
The bodycam video released Tuesday shows Shataeah Kelly head down in the foot well of the vehicle pleading with Aurora police officer Levi Huffine to lift her back up on the seat. Pictured the moment she is hogtied
The incident took place on August 27 2019 when Huffine arrested Kelly for allegedly refusing to stop fighting with another woman in a park. Kelly pictured on the seat before she fell head down on the floor
Kelly slips off the seat and is left there for 21 minutes as she begs for help, says 'I can't breathe' and desperately calls the cop 'master'
Despite her repeated cries for help and reports of her suffering, Huffine does not appear to respond to her or acknowledge her concerns.
At one point, Kelly is heard calling him her 'master' as she begs him to help her and tells him she is sorry.
'How many times to I have to beg you master? Master, I'll be good,' she says.
The woman also says she has 'never felt so much racism in my life' and voices distress that she is 'suffering like this for being black.'
An internal affairs investigation found that Kelly was left in that position for 21 minutes until the officer pulled up at the jail, where a female detention officer opens the car door.
The detention officer is heard questioning Kelly's treatment at the time, asking her: 'Honey, why are you head down like that?'
She then looks at Huffine and tells him 'that didn't look pleasant.'
Huffine tells the prison officer Kelly was in the seat and decided to roll.
In February, the officer was fired for his treatment of the black woman.
The footage was released Tuesday as part of a civil service commission appeal hearing for Huffine, who is fighting Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson's decision to fire him
A disciplinary review board recommended Huffine be suspended for 180 hours, but Wilson decided to fire him, saying he made a bad decision and showed no remorse for his actions.
Huffine is appealing the decision claiming he couldn't see Kelly from where he was sat in the car and the footage was played at his appeal hearing Tuesday to decide whether the cop should be reinstated.
Wilson stood by her decision condemning the 'disgusting' behavior of the cop and saying he 'punished' and 'tortured' the black woman.
'In my opinion she was just tortured back there. It makes me sick,' said Wilson at Tuesday's hearing.
Police Chief Wilson branded the incident 'sick' and 'beyond human decency'
'We are not judge, jury and executer. We are not to treat people inhumanely like they don't matter.'
Wilson said there was no reason for Huffine to hogtie the woman in the first place - other than 'punishing' her because the backseat door handles are inoperable.
'The hobbling in my opinion was another form of punishment,' said Wilson.
Wilson said one of the most disturbing moments in the video was when she said Kelly became so fearful of her life that she called the cop 'master'.
'As an African-American female she denigrates herself to the point she actually calls him 'master.' That to me is disgusting,' the police chief said.
Wilson said Kelly was lucky to be alive following the incident and could have easily died of positional asphyxia.
She warned she would have made sure he was behind bars if the woman had died.
'He is lucky she did not die in the backseat of that car. Because he would be - in my opinion -in an orange jumpsuit right now,' said Wilson.
'If that doesn't make you sick watching that video, I don't know,' said Wilson.
'It's beyond human decency for me. It's unacceptable. I don't know what else to say.'
Wilson had pursued criminal charges against Huffine over the incident but they were dropped as, after she consulted with the Arapahoe County Sheriff's office, it was decided that since Kelly did not suffer serious injuries or die during the ride to jail, charges were not called for.
Police Chief Wilson slammed Huffine (pictured right) saying he 'tortured' Kelly and that it was lucky the black woman didn't die from asphyxiation in the back of his car
Dr. Paul Taylor, an assistant professor and law enforcement instructor at the University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affair who is an expert witness for Huffine, testified Wednesday that Huffine would not have been able to turn around and see Kelly on the floor from the driver's seat because of the partition behind him and because of his duty belt and bulletproof vest.
He said most police departments do not allow hobbled people to be transported without a seatbelt as Aurora did before Wilson changed that policy.
He said Aurora's previously policy put prisoners at 'extreme risk' but it was unfair to single out one officer for punishment rather than focusing on its overall approach and training.
He noted that Kelly said she could not breathe before the cruiser left but none of the officers there were concerned enough to call for an ambulance.
Huffine began testifying Wednesday before the city's civil service commission and is expected to talk about Kelly's transport to jail Thursday.
When the hearing concludes, Aurora's four member civil service commission will rule on whether the cop's firing should be upheld or if he should be given his job back.
A decision is not expected to be reached until early October.
Wilson, named as the department's permanent chief in August, has promised to work to regain public trust following outrage over the death of McClain and the treatment of black men and women in police custody.
Days before Huffine's hearing got underway, separate disturbing footage showed another black woman being hogtied by cops from the force.
Separate disturbing footage shows another black woman being hogtied by cops from Aurora PD. In July 2017, mom-of-two Vanessa Peoples was hogtied at her home by Aurora cops, leaving her with a dislocated shoulder
Peoples, 25, of Aurora, Colorado, was hogtied (pictured) and carried out of her home during a CPS visit gone wrong
In July 2017, mom-of-two Vanessa Peoples was hogtied at her home by Aurora cops, leaving her with a dislocated shoulder.
The incident unfolded one month after her two-year-old son wandered off during a family picnic and a stranger called 911 and reported her.
A CPS worker visited Peoples's home in Aurora, Colorado, the next month to follow up on the incident and called police when nobody answered the door because she feared the children had been left alone.
Peoples was home but hadn't heard the knocks, which officers said was 'concerning.'
When Peoples's mother and a police officer got into an altercation - and Peoples tried to intervene - they ended up pinning her on the ground and tying her hands and legs together.
During the confrontation, the 25-year-old is heard yelling: 'I can't breathe!' and calling for her mother.
Her shoulder was dislocated in the altercation.
Elijah McClain (pictured) died last August after being put in a chokehold by Aurora cops
Aurora police is also facing scrutiny over the death of McClain, 23, after the unarmed black man was stopped on the street and put into a chokehold last August.
McClain was walking alone along a street in Aurora on August 24 2019 after buying iced tea from a convenience store when he was stopped by three white officers.
The officers - Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt and Randy Roedema - said they were responding to a call about a suspicious person wearing a ski mask and waving his arms.
The 911 caller had told the dispatcher that the man 'might be a good person or a bad person' and said he didn't have any weapons on him.
His sister later said McClain, who worked as a massage therapist and played violin, would sometimes wear a ski mask outside because he had anemia and would get cold.
McClain was approached by the cops and bodycam footage showed him being tackled to the floor and put in a chokehold.
Paramedics arriving on the scene then injected him with 500mg of ketamine to calm him down.
McClain said he couldn't breathe in the altercation, vomited repeatedly, fainted and went into cardiac arrest.
He was declared brain dead and taken off life support several days later.
No charges were brought against the three cops involved in his killing.
McClain's death gained renewed attention after the 'murder' of Floyd in Minneapolis sparked nationwide protests over the treatment of black men and women at the hands of cops across America.
Demonstrators carry a giant placard during a rally and march over the death of Elijah McClain outside the police department in Aurora in June this year
Thousands have taken to the streets demanding justice and calling for an end to police brutality and racism since May following Floyd's Memorial Day 'murder'.
Floyd's death reignited outrage over the death of EMT Breonna Taylor, 26, who was shot six times when three plain clothes officers performed a botched raid on her Louisville apartment on March 13.
In June, unarmed father Rayshard Brooks was shot dead while he ran away from cops in the drive-thru of a Wendy's restaurant in Atlanta.
On August 23, Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back by a white cop in front of his three young children, leaving the father-of-six paralyzed from the waist down.
In early September, footage was released by the family of Daniel Prude, 41, showing cops in Rochester, New York, putting a spit hood over his face and pushing his face into the ground for two minutes until he passed out and died on March 23.