Aurora, CO — The Aurora Police Department has been under scrutiny over the death of Elijah McClain recently since it finally got the attention it deserved. Now, they are now facing yet another lawsuit, and more backlash after an officer with the department held a doctor at gunpoint on his own property for no reason and got off with a wrist slap.
Dr. P.J. Parmar, who is an Indian-American, was dropping off gear from a Boy Scout trip at the Mango House building, which is a community center and shared space for refugees — that he owns.
He was subsequently assaulted with a deadly weapon by Aurora officer Justin Henderson who then lied to his department to justify the act. For a crime that would get any regular citizen tossed in jail for at least a year, Henderson received a week off of work.
To be clear, the cop was trespassing and the cop assaulted the property owner with a deadly weapon and then lied about it. Had someone in any other profession on the planet conducted themselves in this manner while on the job, they would have been immediately fired and facing potential criminal charges. Parmar agrees.
“It’s not enough,” Parmar told The Sentinel in an email. “That would never fly in the business world —I’ve terminated employees for less. The police pretty much have free rein to do whatever they want.”
For those who may be unaware, Parmar is an upstanding citizen with absolutely no criminal record. He founded Ardas Family Medicine, a private practice that serves resettled refugees, and Mango House, a home for refugees with activities and services that include dental care, food and clothing banks, churches, scout troops and after school programs. He is a pillar of the community and a selfless man who has dedicated his life to helping others.
Nevertheless, this cop was about to kill him.
When Parmar pulled out in front of the building, he noticed that a police car was in the way, so he honked his horn, which seemed to enrage the officer.
Parmar began recording the encounter immediately, suspecting that there could be a problem because of how aggressively the officer was acting. Henderson was also wearing a body camera at the time, and police have since released that footage to the public as well.
In the footage, Henderson can immediately be heard shouting and seen pointing his gun directly at Parmar.
“Let me see your ***ing hands. What are you doing?” Henderson shouted.
Parmar informed the officer that this was his property, and then he asked the officer to leave. Meanwhile, the officer still had his gun pointed at Parmar’s head.
“I stopped immediately. I beeped at him to get his attention, and I knew there was going to be something interesting, so I started filming him,” Parmar explained.
“It’s a mix of being scared and it’s a mix of being annoyed and frustrated,” Parmar said.
Instead of directly engaging with the officer, Parmar went about his business dropping off the gear while telling the officer to get off of his property. When other officers arrived on the scene, Henderson can be heard saying that he was afraid that Parmar was going to run him over — an obvious lie.
In the body camera footage, Henderson can be heard telling another officer, “I was typing a report, and he comes rolling in here like he’s about to assault me with his car.”
Parmar said that he pulled into the driveway just as he always does, and did not know that the officer was there. He also honked his horn as to not further surprise the officer by getting out of his car.
“The way I pulled in was absolutely the way I pulled in many times. I didn’t know he was there,” Parmar said.
Parmar’s attorney, David Lane of Killmer, with Lane and Newman LLP told reporters that this incident was a clear case of excessive force.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has said pointing a gun at someone is use of force, and you have to be in reasonable fear that your life is in jeopardy to use that level of force. All Dr. Parmar did was honk his horn at this cop who is illegally parked in Parmar’s building parking lot,” Lane said.
Parmar pointed out that many incidents happen like this across the county on a daily basis and many times they have tragic endings — case in point, Philando Castile.
“For my one episode with the video camera, there’s a dozen unfortunate souls ending up on the wrong end of that gun,” Parmar said.
Highlighting the severe problem and also the potential solution to police brutality and lack of accountability is the fact that Henderson faced absolutely no consequences for his actions until after this video came to light.