Video: Matt Hefferon issues complaint against Fort Collins cop who shoved him

Categories: News, Videos

fort collins police incident march 25 2012.jpg
Video below.
Update: The Fort Collins Police Department's investigation into a YouTube video apparently showing an officer shoving Matt Hefferon without provocation -- and Hefferon then being arrested -- is continuing at this writing. (The video can be seen below.) But Hefferon has now issued a formal complaint about the incident, which he says revolves around, of all things, a pedi-cab.

Prior to a press conference yesterday by Fort Collins Police Chief John Hutto, department spokesman Sergeant Jon Holsten released a statement asserting that early Sunday morning, "Fort Collins police officers were approached by the operator of a downtown bicycle taxi service reporting damage to one of his bikes. The informant was able to direct officers to three involved males who were leaving the area on foot."

Hefferon, for his part, tells the Fort Collins Coloradoan that he had his pals, including Jarvis Gullatt, and Josh Cullip, had been drinking in Old Town when they decided to take a pedi-cab -- and when they jumped into the vehicle, it flipped, breaking a rear reflector in the process. At that point, officers contacted the trio and told them they could pay for the damage on the spot or be cited for their actions.

According to Hefferon, he responded by telling the officer that he couldn't pay immediately because his ATM card wasn't working. "I was just standing there talking, explaining," he said in the Coloradoan interview. "And all of a sudden, he just snaps,"

Indeed, Hefferon doesn't seem to be advancing on the officer when the latter gives him a sharp shove in the chest and shouts, "Get back!" An instant later, another officer rushes at Hefferon and announces that he's under arrest -- a pronouncement that prompts Hefferon to repeatedly ask, "For what?"

Look below to see a 9News report that includes a portion of the video and Hutto's news conference. Then continue reading for our earlier coverage, including the complete video.

Original March 26 post with update below: The Fort Collins Police Department is currently investigating a video that popped up on YouTube in the last day or so.

In the clip, taken at around 2 a.m. Sunday morning in the Old Town Square area of downtown Fort Collins (it's on view below), an officer can be seen shoving a man, apparently without provocation -- after which the guy who got pushed is promptly arrested.

The footage was posted by a YouTube user identified as Jade Cervantes, but the person shooting it appears to be male. He initially focuses on an officer who faces him and asks, "Any questions?" but does not attempt to prevent him from recording more video. Meanwhile, on the right side of the frame, a man can be seen speaking to a second officer. The man initially gesticulates with his hands, but he's standing still, more or less, when the second officer jolts him in the chest and shouts, "Get back!"

"Don't push me again!" the man responds, from a position several feet further away from the officer than he'd been seconds earlier.

At that point, the first officer rushes over, grabs the man and says, "You're under arrest."

"For what?" the man wants to know -- and he asks the question repeatedly, even after someone (the officer?) can be faintly heard saying, "Resisting." The man is then told to place his hand on the back of his head even as his arms are being held. His frustrated reply: "I can't!"

At that point, the person with the camera adds his opinion, telling the man, who he identifies as "Matt," not to trip, because he's got the incident on video. The clip ends with the narrator brushing off the second officer's demand for his identification by saying there's no need for him to show it.

john hutto.jpg
John Hutto.
According to Fort Collins Police spokesman Sergeant Jon Holsten, the department learned about the existence of the video when asked about it by the Fort Collins Coloradoan. Shortly thereafter, FCPD Chief John Hutto ordered that the incident be reviewed even though no one has, as of this writing, issued a formal complaint about what happened. (Update, 12:45 p.m. March 26: Hutto will hold a press conference about the video at 2 p.m. today.)

The newspapers identifies one of the two officers on camera as Kyle Bendzsa, whose name made the news in September 2010, during the arrest of Colorado Eagles player Mario Joly. According to 9News, Bendzsa ordered Joly to leave Old Town Square during what was described as a riot, and when he refused to do so, the officer "delivered a straight strike" to the player's chest with his police baton. Afterward, Joly reportedly lunged at the officers and resisted arrest, getting his shirt torn in the process -- a turn of events that prompted him to phone the department to complain. Joly was subsequently arrested for second-degree assault.

Speaking about this weekend's incident, Holsten says, "The chief has ordered us to take a look at this, to see if we can get to the bottom of it. And just a little bit ago, we were able to speak to some of the guys on patrol and figure out what case it was. We're rounding up some of that information as far as the arrests made and what we're going to do in terms of talking to the officers and other folks."

No special events were taking place in Old Town Square at the time of the altercation -- just the normal process of let-out, as bars prepared to close at 2 a.m.

While the police department is initiating an investigation even without a complaint, Holsten isn't ready to make a value judgment on what's portrayed in the clip. "There are things that happen before the video is turned on, and there are things that happen after it's turned off. And we're trying to be cognizant of the fact that videos don't typically give the whole story. They give part of it."

Even so, he continues, "we know by looking at the video that part of the community will be concerned about it. When we see a video that shows physical contact with the public, it doesn't necessarily mean the officer did anything wrong, but it does let us know we have to look at the whole picture."

Here's the video:

matt hefferon.jpg
Matt Hefferon.
Update, 1:53 p.m. March 26: Minutes before Fort Collins Police Chief John Hutto is scheduled to appear at a 2 p.m. press conference to speak about the incident captured in the video above, the FCPD has released the names of the individuals involved. Turns out that not one, not two but three people were cited in the early March 25 exchange with police. They are:

Matthew Robert Hefferson
Date of Birth: 10/10/87
Loveland, CO
Charges: Criminal Mischief and Obstructing a Peace Officer (Cited and Released)

Joshua Michael Cullip
Date of Birth: 01/27/88
Loveland, CO
Charges: Interference (Cited and Released)

Jarvis Lukeith Gullatt
Date of Birth 10/22/87
Loveland, CO
Charges: Obstructing a Peace Officer (Cited and Released)

Hefferson is presumably the person being shoved, since the video captures the videographer referring to "Matt." And it appears his name may have been misspelled in the FCPD release. His Facebook page prints his last name as "Hefferon." (Update: Spokesman Holsten has now acknowledged that Hefferon's name was misspelled in the initial release.)

josh Cullip.jpg
Joshua Cullip.
As previously reported, one of the FCPD officers featured was Officer Kyle Bendzsa. Also seen is Officer Dan Calahan.

In addition, the time of the incident has now been pinned down to 1:47 a.m. According to a release from Sergeant Jon Holsten, quoted above, "Fort Collins police officers were approached by the operator of a downtown bicycle taxi service reporting damage to one of his bikes. The informant was able to direct officers to three involved males who were leaving the area on foot."

FYI: Cullip posted the video on his Facebook page yesterday along with the following description:

"Police brutality in FORT COLLINS CO.

Cop shoves Matt Hefferon; for no reason!!! Check it out! Jarvis Gullatt, and Josh Cullip."

Follow and like the Michael Roberts/Westword Facebook page.

More from our Comment of the Day archive: "Readers disagree about whether Denver Diner incident was police brutality."


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nattyco1
nattyco1

Nearly a year after this Ft Collins Old Towne incident.....let me introduce you to Matt Hefferon.

I have had the privilege of knowing Matt for the entirety of his life thus far and to date Jan 10, 2013, my only regret is that the rest of the local world has gotten to know of him through such horrific injustice and through some very stereo-typical. Eyes about how "all punk ass drunk college kids" behave.

Matt is neiither a drunk nor a college kid. Actually, for the matter of following in line with the accurate reporting written above, he is a very driven, hard working family oriented young man who is a college graduate and now owns and operates his own company.

In a world where the increasing issues of violence, mayhem and malicious crimes plague every small town and large city, Matt's only "crime" that evening was accidentally damaging a pedi cab for which Id have gladly given him the funds to cover. Why??? Because I have been firmly aquainted with his astute content of character for 25 years. He has, since childhood, been a person who operates out of integrity. In these years I have on a few occasions played an active part in encouraging Matt in lessons of taking responsibilty for ones actions and walking the walk not just talking the talk.

On the evening of this incident I find it quite interesting that the officers initial statement was that he felt threatened by Matt. The officer approached him, initiated and completed an entire conversation informing Matt of the consequences to damaging a reflector. The officer had already presented Matts options and concluded by asking him if he had any questions. Matt replied by asking, "questions about what?" Apparently Matt's brief attempt at clarification incited fear? Terror? The sudden rush of anxiety that holy hell was about to unleashed over a pedi-cab damage fine???

Folks, the truth of the matter is that Matt Hefferon was less of a threat to that officer than a natural unmalicious bite from a mosquito in the warming air of that spring night. Id go on record, under oath and have posted quite publicly to attest to this fact! The fact of the matter is that Matt Hefferon was cuffed and arrested without even knowing what he was guilty of. The truth of the matter is that while this provocation of physical assault was the hand being dealt to Matt, his chemical, biological response of "fight or flight" was the least aggressive or threating. He blocked and attempted to quickly remove himself from the aim of "put up your dukes officer #2.

Nearly a year later this story has more to it than what is updated here! Truth and justice apparently cut the cord and separated themselves from what is now the "american way"!

I truly, most sincerely wish that Ft. Collins finest might have included a real look into just who Matt Hefferon is as a part of their "full investigation. It is deeply disheartening to see yet another incident with our nations police officers where money and dishonesty breed such a lack of integrity and self responsibility.

I am angered and outraged at the very recent additional events in this case however in conclusion, let me say this:

To the officers involved, I sincerely hope as men sworn to do good, as men with families and loved ones they'd speak up for, defend and protect, as individuals who like the rest of us would no sooner enjoy being misunderstood, ill-perceived and subsequently vviolated, my hope and prayer is that somewhere in the depths of your guts you will feel the pull of a righteous conviction. May this situation grab your attention and refuse to be the dimly lit back burner. May you recognize truth where lies have become routine. May the ones you've sworn to protect become the real target of your protection rather than your non kevlar covered caboose. May you sincerely recognize how your choices have done damage to the life of someone who would have never hurt you! And may you one day come to a place of humble understanding that there is one far above this worlds law, who none of us can fire, jail, vote out of office, pay off, or otherwise manipulate or lie to and walk away scott free. He sees the heart...He knows truth and is fully aware of what is done in secret! Maybe if He has his way one day you'll find yourself knocking at Mr. Hefferons door looking to personally serve and do right by him. As for me??? I'm no lawyer. I'm no preacher. I'm not even Matt's parent.....I just happen to be someone who knows the whole truth and has enough integrity to speak it!

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Bobby Ayers
Bobby Ayers

just another coward with a badge who now gets off by bulling people very bad example of how police officer is supposed to act.also it will be swept under the rug nothing unusual about whitewashing.my friend who was a retired Denver cop stated before his death that Denver police where the most corrupt cops in the nation.

the bushman
the bushman

DEAD COPS DEAD COPS. WHATCHYA GONNA DO? THE MAFIA IN BLUE HUNTING FOR QUEERS, NIGGERS AND YOU! DEAD COPS DEAD COPS. suck my balls law dawgs.

gnu
gnu

I also own a music venue in Fort Collins...I'll say that I 'know' both of these cops, and they aren't that bad. They and others have helped us out of jams a bunch of times. 

They all (cops) surely have a superiority complex, but this is one of the drunkest most annoying places I could imagine being a cop at. I don't think they should push, and they should probably be suspended for overuse of force, but, they shouldn't get fired or anything like that. I want to beat up drunk college kids all the time, so I can't really hold it against them forever..

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Very interesting post, Gnu -- one we're going to make an upcoming Comment of the Day. Congrats, and thanks for weighing in.

the bushman
the bushman

pipebomb on lansdowne- "It’s Friday night and the streets are filled with rich little fucking college pussy faggots. I’m gonna get a fucking gun and shoot them all right in the balls"

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boston
boston

This cop needs to be suspended without pay and made to pay for reeducation classes. His partner should share the same fate. Misuse of power. The taxpayer did nothing wrong as far as I could see. When did it become a crime to stand up for your rights? You could be next.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Cops = Violent Scum

Matt in Boulder
Matt in Boulder

Donkey - Is that you?  We actually agree on something.  Come on, give me a hug and let's sing Kumbaya.

Hip Tip for the Pigs!!  If you can't handle the heat, stay out of the kitchen!!

Dan
Dan

Yeah, until you need them right? You don't have a clue..."Ass_Hotay"

Benjamin Watson
Benjamin Watson

A.C.A.B.!

Dan
Dan

Easy to talk shit behind a computer huh? Sittin in mom and daddys basement. Punk like and your little girl friends on here would wet there pants if they really needed a cop, or anyone for that matter if you had chrome pointed at your cranium....

the bushman
the bushman

 all cops are bastards. MDC! Austin, Texas in 1979

Evan Camomile
Evan Camomile

It appears that the officers have a history of trying to incite arrest. Look at some of the related vids on youtube. See any familiar faces? Plus the Joly incident. How have these guys been on the force this long? If you can't handle the stress well, get out of the uniform. These two are sullying the reputation of police officers who actually protect people, not shove them for no reason.

Tntspider
Tntspider

Having run a night club in Fort Collins, I can relate to what the officers are dealing with. Drunk college boys with complete disregardfor anything or anyone. The boys weren't randomly stopped and arrested. They had vandalized a bike taxi. It's obvious that the officer who pushed him had asked him to step back at least once before. The best part is "Matt" says "push me again" like he is going to fight the officer. Is this kid that stupid or just that drunk?

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

You'll make the perfect cop some day, thug.

Really
Really

In many other cities this guy would've been cuffed for disturbing the peace and his iPhone reset to factory settings, thus deleting all the video. Colorado has it pretty good. 

sorandkairi
sorandkairi

haha...android for the save...saves photo and video to memory cards....

Light Rail Tattler
Light Rail Tattler

They go to the University of Colorado, Colorado State University and University of Northern Colorado to get drunk.They churn them and they come to LoDo and do the exact same thing except for they keep serving them until they are 2-3 times drunker than pictured here.

I give the police pictured here an A+++++++++++++ for how they handled it.Way to go Fort Collins Police. The drunken vandals went to jail without broken bones or blood.

Please Google: RTD Light Rail Train Crash

Benjamin Watson
Benjamin Watson

Destruction of property is illegal. Colorado sounds pretty authoritarian if that's the policy. Recording isn't disturbing the peace - it's a constitutionally protected right. Silly statists...

GetReal
GetReal

 So, cops are allowed to destroy a citizen's personal property...yes, video taken is personal property.  What about the baby pics, etc that were there as well?  Do people in other parts of the country really allow this kind of behavior simply because the person has a badge? I doubt that.

Timbuk2
Timbuk2

I agree with you, except that the demographic hanging out on the street that late probably don't have baby pics on their cameras.

Timbuk2
Timbuk2

Nah, it got the point across, though I think I'll be backing up my camera's SD card before I go from here on.

GetReal
GetReal

Agreed, my point was more that there could have been video or pictures that were of value to the person that cannot be replaced.  I could have maybe come up with a better example. :)

Timbuk2
Timbuk2

Everything looked pretty peaceful until the pig lashed out.  Arms crossed (which is defensive), no aggressive dialogue or gestures... Oh yeah, he was definitely "resisting."

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

One can't "resist arrest" unless one is being arrested for something else.

You'd think that idiot cops would know this before they arrest people on the naked charge of "resisting arrest" without any underlying charge.

I've seen really stupid cops arrest people for "suspicion of resisting arrest" without any underlying charge.

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