Police chief apologizes to elderly man brutalized by thug cop

The police chief of Victoria, Texas, has personally apologized to Pete Vasquez, 76, after a rookie cop threw Vasquez to the ground, handcuffed him, and tased him for disputing the cop’s attempt to cite him for an expired inspection sticker.

Last Thursday, Vasquez was driving a car with dealer plates that’s owned by a car lot he works for. In Texas, cars with dealer plates don’t need inspection stickers, but was pulled over by an inexperienced cop, and when Vasquez tried to explain this to the cop, the officer grabbed his arm to handcuff him. When Vasquez tried to pull free, the cop wrestled him to the ground, handcuffed him, then shot him twice with a taser while he lay on the ground.

Some people in the community is demanding the cop’s dismissal. The car lot sales manager, who watched the incident, said of him, “He’s probably a good family man, but you don’t treat people like that. I don’t see how in the world anyone would think he should keep his job.”

The chief isn’t defending him. He said, “Public trust is very important to us.” The district attorney said, “You want to make sure you give the right kind of person a badge and a gun.” Vasquez told the news media, “I feel like my rights were violated. The police department is supposed to train their police officers to be more conscientious and use common sense. I don’t think he had any.”

This case illustrates what’s wrong with our police, and what should be done about it. Some cops don’t use good judgment and are too quick to use force. Here’s what this cop did wrong:

1. He didn’t know the law. Vasquez wasn’t in violation. It wasn’t even his car. But he wasn’t given a chance to explain any of this.

2. Asking a question or disputing a citation isn’t a crime, it’s a citizen’s right. The cop tried to arrest Vasquez for exercising this right. That was wrong.

3. A minor traffic infraction is no reason to use force.

4. Vasquez was an elderly person. He didn’t have a weapon or display aggression. Under those circumstances, manhandling him wasn’t necessary, and it’s hard to understand what possible justification could exist for tasing him twice after he was handcuffed and on the ground.

5. Even if the takedown was somehow justified, the cop had a duty to summon medical assistance, and failed to do so. Apparently he didn’t even ask Vasquez if he was hurt. Another cop did that in the video.

The police chief and district attorney have their heads in the right place. They understand what policing is about, how it should be done, and what should be expected of cops. It remains to be seen whether their future actions will match their noble words, but at least the chief is promising  an investigation and the district attorney isn’t ruling out charges against the cop. These are steps in the right direction.

I agree with the sales manager. The cop may be a great guy in other respects, but after a judgment lapse like this, I don’t see how he can keep his job. I suspect that, given the publicity, he’ll feel compelled to resign.Roger-Rabbit-icon1





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