El Paso, TX – Video captured the scene of five cops fighting a man in the middle of a busy gym on Monday, while others walked around the fight unfazed and didn't let it ruin their workout (video below.)
Robert Stripin, the manager of the EP Fitness located at 11705 Montwood, told Blue Lives Matter he was about to pick up the phone to call the police about Kenneth Howard, 22, on Monday when he saw officers right outside the entrance to his gym.
El Paso Police were already there because they had responded to a 911 call for an assault in progress in the parking lot in front of the fitness center just before 11:15 a.m.
Sergeant Enrique Carrillo, public information officer for the El Paso Police Department (EPPD), told Blue Lives Matter that when officers arrived, the victim told them that a complete stranger had asked him for a ride, and then jumped into his car.
“He tells the victim to give him a ride to another gym at another location,” Sgt. Carrillo said. “The suspect went around to the passenger side, opened the door, and got in the car, without his permission. At which point he began throwing items that were inside the car outside. Then he began to assault our victim, punching him several times about the face and head.”
The victim told police that after the suspect assaulted him, he went inside EP Fitness.
The gym’s manager said that Howard was a member.
“What happened was he came in here and he was harassing the members. And they informed me about it… he looked like he was high. While I was talking to him, he was dancing,” Stripin told Blue Lives Matter.
“He continued harassing the members – I watched him follow some lady all the way around the gym – so I asked him to leave again,” he said. “He kept on dancing and getting on the machines and acting weird.”
“I repeatedly told him ‘you have to leave,’ and he said ‘no,’” Stripin said. “I was about to call the police when I saw the officers out front.”
The gym’s manager said he went outside and told police that Howard was inside “harassing all the members and I want him out of here.”
Stripin said the officers approached the suspect slowly, and Howard “was just ignoring them.”
“The officers go meet with him and he is muttering incoherently, making incoherent remarks, and dancing,” Sgt. Carrillo said. “Then he walked away from the officers.”
“Next thing you know, there’s more officers arriving, and then more,” Stripin said.
He said at that point, Howard took notice of the assembled officers.
“More of you guys – whoa! More of you guys,” Howard said, according to Stripin.
He said the officers went to take Howard into custody, and the man fought them.
In the video, officers can be seen trying to gain control of Howard to arrest him.
Four officers wrestled Howard to the ground, as a gym member jumped in to the fray to assist them.
“He was fighting and resisting. There was an off-duty officer who jumped in, too,” Stripin said.
In the video, the suspect was curled up into a ball on his knees and officers can be seen repeatedly striking Howard from above. Additional officers arrived at the scene.
“During the melee, he was biting the female officer, and they were trying to get him to let go,” Sgt. Carrillo explained to Blue Lives Matter.
He said Howard bit the officer on her thigh and would not let go.
“They deployed the Taser but it was ineffective,” Sgt. Carrillo said.
On the video, as officers attempted to subdue Howard, he let out some startling grunts and roars of rage.
Eventually, police handcuffed him and brought him to his feet, and removed him from the fitness center.
Howard was charged with assault for his initial attack on the man in the parking lot. He was also charged with assault on a peace officer, resisting arrest, and trespassing, Sgt. Carrillo said.
He said the female officer’s bite wound was treated by the fire department at the scene, but he did not know the extent of the damage or the follow-up required.
Gym member Omar Natera filmed the altercation after Howard began resisting arrest and sent it to his friends on Snapchat. He later posted the videos on Facebook with a description that called it "police brutality."
“Guy comes to the gym looking like he’s on drugs or excess pre-workout, management calls cops, guy didn’t want to speak to cops, resisted arrest, got beat up, tased, and arrested. Even gym member jumped in Lol. I guess it’s not considered police brutality if he’s resisting arrest,” Natera posted.
You can see the video of the fight below: