San Antonio, TX – A San Antonio police officer who allegedly used “unnecessary physical force” while arresting a drug-toting, combative suspect, has been disciplined by his department (video below).
“What was the officer to do? Hold back and not do his job?” San Antonio Police Officers Association President Mike Helle said of the arrest, according to the San Antonio Express-News. “That’s not the police force people want.”
Recently released bodycam footage of the Feb. 19, 2017 altercation showed 18-year-old David Ramirez walking down the middle of Ferndale Street with his headphones on.
Officer Arnoldo Sanchez, a four-year veteran of the force, was in the area on an unrelated call, when he spotted Ramirez in the roadway.
Officer Sanchez activated his lights chirped his siren before he stopped his patrol car to talk with the man, the San Antonio Express-News reported.
Ramirez had already moved to the sidewalk by the time the officer approached him, and initially attempted to walk past the cruiser and the officer.
“Hey! Come here!” Officer Sanchez told him. “Hey! I’m talking to you. Come here!”
Ramirez removed his headphones and apologized to the officer, who then told him to go back over by the patrol car, the video showed.
San Antonio police are trained to stay near their patrol vehicles whenever possible because it provides them with a source of protection and also contains the equipment they need to access in order to do their jobs – such as running a suspect for warrants using a computer, Helle told the San Antonio Express-News.
“He probably felt the guy was getting jittery already,” Helle said. “For a policeman, you don’t want to put yourself in a position where you might have to get into a foot chase with someone. You want to put yourself in a defensive position.”
But when Officer Sanchez began escorting Ramirez back towards the vehicle, the suspect attempted to pull away and told the officer to let him go, the video showed.
“Can you let me go, please? Can you please? Please?” Ramirez begged.
Officer Sanchez denied his request, and told him to place his hands behind his back.
Ramirez refused to comply, and ordered the officer to let him go, at which point they ended up tussling on the ground in front of Officer Sanchez’s patrol car.
“You’re choking! I can’t breathe!” Ramirez yelled, as Officer Sanchez and a second officer tried to roll the combative suspect onto his stomach.
“I’m trying…I can’t! You all won’t let me!” Ramirez claimed, as he gripped onto the front of the patrol car’s bumper to stop the officers’ attempts to roll him over.
“What the f--k, man?” he complained. “Get off me man, please! I’m not doin’ nothing!”
The officers repeatedly ordered Ramirez to roll over and tried to break his grip on the bumper, the video showed.
Ramirez then began screaming for help, but still refused to roll over.
“Can I call my dad, please?” he yelled, as the officers ordered for him to stop reaching. “I’m tryin’ to call my dad!”
The officers were able to wrestle the flailing man into handcuffs.
“You’re hurting me! You’re f--king hurting me man!” Ramirez screamed.
Police later found a small amount of marijuana on Ramirez, but the charge was ultimately dismissed due to "insufficient evidence," the San Antonio Express-News reported.
According to police department administrators, Officer Sanchez “used unnecessary physical force by forcefully picking Mr. Ramirez up off the ground and slamming him into the hood of the patrol vehicle" during the altercation, disciplinary paperwork read.
“Officer Sanchez immediately self-reported his own actions to his supervisor after struggling with a suspect who was hiding narcotics in his waistband area,” the department said in a statement, according to the San Antonio Express-News.
“After an Internal Affairs investigation and a meeting with [San Antonio Police Chief William McManus], the Chief determined that a two-day suspension was the most appropriate action,” the statement read.
According to disciplinary documents, Officer Sanchez agreed to the two-day, unpaid suspension, which was held in abeyance for one year.
Because he was not found guilty of any “violations or similar conduct” within the one-year timeframe that followed, he was not required to serve the suspension, as per the agreement.
Helle said Officer Sanchez didn’t deserve to be disciplined for the altercation, and argued that Ramirez was the one responsible for what occurred.
“The kid was walking in the middle of the street. He saw the cops and said, ‘Eh, who cares?’” Helle recounted. “If he would have complied, it probably wouldn’t have escalated…I think the officers used a lot of restraint.”
You can watch bodycam footage of the officers’ encounter with Ramirez in the video below: