A Texas police officer was placed on administrative leave on Friday after he reportedly used a Taser on a 76-year-old man after the suspect had already been forced to the ground.
The Victoria Advocate reported that 76-year-old Pete Vasquez was driving a work-owned vehicle back to his place of business on Thursday when 23-year-old Officer Nathanial Robinson pulled him over for an expired inspection.
Vasquez said that he explained that the car belonged to a car lot, and that the dealer tags made it exempt from having an inspection.
But dashcam video obtained by the paper shows Robinson using force to arrest Vasquez for what should have been a Class C misdemeanor. In the video, Vasquez pulls his arm away from Robinson, and the officer slams him into the hood of the patrol car. The two men disappear from camera range as Robinson places Vasquez in a hold, and then forces him to the ground.
According to police, Robinson shocked Vasquez with a Taser twice while he was on the ground.
“He just acted like a pit bull, and that was it,” Vasquez recalled. “For a while, I thought he was going to pull his gun and shoot me.”
Vasquez was placed in the patrol car, and then transported to Citizens Medical Center for treatment, where he spent the next two hours in police custody. He was eventually released with out being charged or cited.
Chief J.J. Craig offered a personal apology to Vasquez on Friday.
“Public trust is extremely important to us,” Craig explained. “Sometimes that means you have to take a real hard look at some of the actions that occur within the department.”
“You want to make sure you give the right kind of person a badge and a gun,” he added.
Larry Urich, who works as a sales manager at the car lot, told the Advocate that the officer should be both fired from the force and prosecuted for assault.
“I told the officer, ‘What in the hell are you doing?’ This gentleman is 76 years old,” Urich said. “The cop told me to stand back, but I didn’t shut up. I told him he was a goddamned Nazi Stormtrooper.”
For his part, Vasquez said that he felt like his “rights were violated.”
“The police department is supposed to train their police officers to be more conscientious and use common sense,” he observed. “I don’t think he had any.”
Robinson could be charged with aggravated assault, injury to the elderly and official oppression if the department determines he violated the law.
Watch the video below from the Victoria Advocate, uploaded Dec. 13, 2014.