Video published by Denver7 shows that Jordan Hancock, the son of Denver’s mayor, called a police officer a “bitch” and a “faggot” while threatening to get him fired during a traffic stop in Aurora this March.
But, for now, we won’t know what else was said in the encounter, and what may have prompted all that cursing, because the Aurora Police Department refuses to release the full video.
Jordan Hancock, 22, was pulled over in Aurora on the morning of March 23 and received a $250 speeding ticket, Denver7 reported.
“My dad’s the mayor,” he says in footage captured by an officer’s body-worn camera.
“Of Denver?” the officer replied. “Well, you’re in Aurora.”
“Guess what, I’m about to get you fired,” Jordan Hancock said. (I’m cutting out some swearing here.)
The officer did not break any department rules in the encounter, according to Aurora police. Jordan Hancock later agreed to pay the ticket, Denver7 reported.
But the video released by Denver7 doesn’t show the full encounter.
And, in a statement released on Tuesday night, Aurora Chief Nicholas Metz listed a few reasons that he was denying open-records requests for the full digital video.
First, he said, disclosure of videos will “generally … not be permitted” unless the request comes from the person in the video, in order to protect their privacy.
That requirement can be waived if there’s a “public purpose” to be served. Metz didn’t specifically say whether or not he thinks discussion of Jordan Hancock’s behavior has a public purpose.
Metz also cited the fact that the video was improperly leaked to the media. His department is now conducting an internal investigation to find out how that happened. “It is not appropriate for any officer to disclose evidence, video or otherwise, publicly when a matter is pending prosecution,” he wrote.
Metz said that it would be inappropriate “at this time” to release the full video.
Does his reasoning hold up?
Interestingly, the Denver Police Protective Association is currently suing Aurora’s government over their policy on body camera footage.
The argument is that the city has overstepped state law by refusing to give out footage to third parties, like Metz is doing in this case.
“That sort of blanket policy seems to imply that the general public would never have an interest in any of the police department’s body camera footage,” wrote Jeff Roberts, executive director of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, in an email to Denverite.
But he noted that Metz had left the door open for a future release.
For his part, Chief Metz said that he had not discussed the decision with Mayor Hancock’s office, and was not influenced by the mayor in any other way.
Meanwhile, the video’s been picked up by national outlets including the Washington Post. Mayor Hancock said he’s talked to his son about why this was all a pretty bad look.
“He’s apologized to the officer. While we don’t support nor condone his inexcusable actions & words, we love our son dearly & will work w/him to turn a personal mistake into a valuable lesson for himself & the community,” the mayor’s account tweeted.
Metz said it was just another day on the job for his officers. “I am constantly reminded of and impressed by the professionalism our officers demonstrate during these situations, and I appreciate the work they do each and every day despite these encounters,” he wrote.
Do you know something I should know? Email me.