VICTORIA, TX — An elderly man was slammed to the pavement and tased when a police officer mistakenly thought that he had violated the state’s “vehicle inspection sticker” law.
The victim, 76-year-old Pete Vasquez, was followed into the parking lot of the Adams Auto Mart when an officer believed that he had an expired sticker on the rear of his car. However, since his vehicle was licensed with dealer plates, it was exempt from vehicle inspections and associated stickers.
Dashcam video showed Victoria Officer Nathanial Robinson, 23, pull behind Mr. Vasquez’s vehicle and begin a verbal confrontation with him. The officer’s rap music, blaring from inside the cruiser, was so loud that the conversation was inaudible.
Approximately 30 seconds after exiting his vehicle, Officer Robinson went hands-on with Mr. Vasquez, twisting his arm behind his back, slamming him onto the cruiser, and then driving the old man into the parking lot.
The dashcam video, timestamped December 11, 2014, shows the encounter below:
After slamming the elderly man to the ground outside of camera view, Officer Robinson drew his taser on Mr. Vasquez and sent two electrical jolts into his body.
“He just acted like a pit bull, and that was it,” Mr. Vasquez told the Victoria Advocate. “For a while, I thought he was going to pull his gun and shoot me.”
A sales manager at the Auto Mart witnessed the assault, and was so disturbed by the use of force that he confronted the officer: “I told the officer, ‘What in the hell are you doing?’ This gentleman is 76 years old,” said 62-year-old Larry Urich. “The cop told me to stand back, but I didn’t shut up. I told him he was a g**damn Nazi Stormtrooper.”
Even if Mr. Vasquez had violated the vehicle inspection sticker law — which he hadn’t — it would constitute a Class C Misdemeanor and ordinarily results in a citation. The use of physical force was far above and beyond what the circumstances warranted. Such an assault should be followed by criminal charges, as would have occurred if any non-uniformed citizen had done the same thing.
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FOLLOW-UP: Officer Nathaniel Robinson has been placed on “administrative duty” pending the outcome of an internal investigation.
Tell Chief J.J. Smith to fire Officer Nathaniel Robinson and charge him with criminal assault.