Abuse of Authority by San Antonio Police Officers
The San Antonio Police Department has had a problem with police brutality for a long time but mostly, it’s been kept quiet. Fortunately, KSAT has started doing a really good job of dragging the secrets out into the light. The latest incident of abuse of power by police officers is the arrest of Mathias Ometu. Mr. Ometu is a Black man who works as an insurance adjuster. Mr. Ometu had been out enjoying a run when he was stopped by two San Antonio Police officers. The two officers were looking for a man matching Mr. Ometu’s description, who had been involved in a domestic violence assault.
Mr. Ometu stopped and allowed them to place handcuffs on him but repeatedly declined to answer questions regarding who he was and what his date of birth was. Per the KSAT article, this is “a legal right in Texas unless the person is arrested or operating a motor vehicle.” The officers then informed him that they were going to take him downtown and began to physically push Mr. Ometu into the police car. Mr. Ometu, knowing he had not done anything, resists them taking him into custody. A struggle ensues as they try to force him into the patrol car. I imagine they finally get him in the car. They contact the woman who filed the domestic violence complaint. She comes down and says Mr. Ometu is not the person who assaulted her. You would think that would end it and they would let him go but no. Police officers then engaged in retaliation by charging him with two counts of felony assault on an officer.
This is probably a hard one for the public to determine as there are valid issues on both sides. On the one side, we all have certain rights guaranteed to us. Under Texas law, Mr. Ometu did not have to identify himself. At that point, he was not under arrest nor was he driving a vehicle. He had willingly allowed them to cuff him for their safety but when they asked him to sit in the vehicle, he chose not to. Again, he was not under arrest. Since he was not doing anything that was outside of his rights to do, they really didn’t have a reason to resort to force other than choosing to engage in police brutality.
As far as the officers. They were looking for someone whose description (mind you a very skimpy description) matched Mr. Ometu. The person they were looking for was accused of domestic violence and had a weapon. If they stopped someone they thought might be the wanted person, then let him walk away and it turned out that it was the wanted person, not only would they face disciplinary action but the police department would have been raked over the coals in the media and by the public.
So what should have been done? This whole situation shows the lack of ability that police have in dealing with the public. An attempt should have been made in explaining what was going on and why they needed the information. The officers already suspected they had the wanted person. It’s highly doubtful that they dealt with Mr. Ometu in a respectful manner. It’s not their strong point at the best of times much less when they believe they are dealing with a criminal. I suspect they were demanding in their manner and giving very little info, if any, in return. That’s their usual M.O.
Cover Up & Retaliation
Police officers knew they had a problem once they found out Mr. Ometu was not the wanted person. They had manhandled an innocent Black man, who was out minding his own business, and it was all caught on video. They decided to arrest Mr. Ometu for assault for having the gall to resist being harassed for no reason. This is very common by police all over America. In this case, I feel it was more geared toward covering up their misdeeds since they also tried to intimidate the attorney who video taped them (see video below) but it’s frequently done as retaliation. A lot of people who are innocent of crimes get charged with Resisting Arrest when the officer is the one who escalated the situation, just because the officer can and chooses to make that person’s life difficult.
The video below is from KENS but I highly recommend you watch Dillon Collier speak to Geary Reamey, a constitutional law professor at St. Mary’s University School of Law. It’s the first video on the KSAT story.