Officer Shoots at Fleeing Juveniles
(TX) – The San Antonio Police Department is well-known for trying to keep police misconduct hidden from the public. Fortunately Fares Sabawi and Dillon Collier, with KSAT 12, have done an excellent job of ferreting out information and using open records requests to force SAPD to release documents.
Because of the excellent work they do, we are now learning that on March 9 two teens appeared to be trying to gain access to vehicles by pulling on their door handles. Police were called and Officer Oscar Cruz Jr. arrived on the scene. He tried to detain the juveniles, but they ran away. One of the juveniles threw something at Officer Cruz during the chase, that hit Cruz in the face, but the article doesn’t say what was thrown, nor does it say that Cruz was injured. What we do know is that the boys were running away from Cruz and that they were unarmed. We also know, from the body cam video, that Officer Cruz yelled “Stop running or I will fucking shoot you.” The KSAT article states Cruz fired two shots at the fleeing boys. No one was hit.
Officers Frequently Resort to Excessive Force
Officers are taught that they should only be using the amount of force necessary and that deadly force should be used when they are in fear for their life or in protecting the life of others. Regardless of what they have been taught, police officers frequently act as if not following instructions is a major insult that gives them the right to shoot a person. This keeps happening over and over. If Officer Cruz had killed one or both of the boys they would have lost their life for checking a car door to see if it was locked. There is not a single statute that lists the death penalty for checking a car door handle.
San Antonio Police Department Hides Police Misconduct
This situation was not about what the kids did that resulted in the police being called. It isn’t even about them running away. This is strictly about the officer’s ego. He was pissed off that they didn’t do what he told them to and he was going to make them pay for it. This is exactly the kind of officers that the San Antonio Police Department needs to weed out and it appears that they did. Officer Oscar Cruz was placed on indefinite suspension. At the San Antonio Police Department, that is the same as saying he was fired. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that he, and the San Antonio Police Officers Association (SAPOA), are fighting to get him reinstated, but at least SAPD did the right thing.
However, as usual, the San Antonio Police Department hid the incident from the public. SAPD should have announced what happened and what was done. They think the public will lose even more trust in them if we know what is really happening. Sure, there will be some complaints, but the majority of the public will be supportive of the transparency.
Time for a New Police Chief
I used to have a high regard for Chief McManus, but I have come to believe that we won’t get the changes we need until we replace him. McManus has been in law enforcement too long. He rose through the ranks during a time when police brutality was openly used and law enforcement agencies did everything they could to protect officers from facing consequences. Chief McManus does hold his officers accountable, but there still appears to be disparity in who gets disciplined and at what level the discipline is issued. And we definitely have a problem with McManus hiding what goes on at SAPD. It’s time for a younger, more progressive chief.