A Texas man was left paralyzed more than a year after police officers beat him “like a bunch of thugs” after mistaking him for a fleeing drug suspect.
Roger Carlos was paralyzed from the chest down after complications from Nov. 3 surgery to repair his injured spine, reported KENS-TV.
The 43-year-old father of three has undergone multiple surgeries on his neck and spine to relieve pain and pressure from herniated discs in connection with the May 2014 beating by two San Antonio police officers and an undercover drug task force officer.
Carlos was photographing a building where his wife planned to open a medical practice when the officers approached and started beating him in the head.
“These guys, they beat me like a bunch of thugs,” Carlos said earlier this year.
He insisted he was complying with police orders and not fighting back — but he said the officers struck him at least 50 times.
“I could understand taking somebody down hard,” said Carlos, who has no criminal history. “I can understand the need for that and securing them, but that’s not what happened. I got on the ground, I was no threat to anybody, I was fully compliant.”
The officers had been pursuing 27-year-old Josue Rodriguez, who was wanted on a felony warrant, when they encountered Carlos.
Police said they found a sawed-off shotgun, ammunition, and 20 grams of methamphetamine in the car Rodriguez had been driving while fleeing from officers.
A fourth officer walked up and told the other officers that Rodriguez had been arrested nearby as they were placing the battered Carlos in handcuffs.
Carlos suffered a broken tooth, facial injuries and swelling of his skull, and a recent CT scan also revealed a previously undiscovered brain aneurysm, his wife said.
The SWAT officers were identified as Carlos Chavez and Virgilo Gonzalez, but the undercover drug task force officer was not identified due to the nature of his job.
They were suspended for 15 days late last year, but Police Chief William McManus cut their punishment to five days just before taking a planned retirement.
“Clearly it was a case of mistaken identity,” McManus said last year. “From the report that I’ve read, from the photo that I saw, and from (reporters’) description, I’ve not seen anything at this point that would indicate to me that anything out of order happened.”
Carlos’ wife said the “careless” officers had ruined her husband’s life.
“People need to stand up and say something about it,” Ronnie Carlos said. “Just because a police officer has a right to do something like that based on a law that protects them, it’s not right — it’s not right.”
Carlos has undergone another surgery since he was paralyzed earlier this month when a piece of bone broke off and compressed against his spinal cord.
He has started to lose movement in his wrists, and doctors are worried that he could develop difficulty breathing.
The family, who have three boys under the age of 10, plans to file a lawsuit against the city of San Antonio and its police department.
“It’s hard to see it, it’s hard to believe that something like this occurred over a mistaken identity,” Ronnie Carlos said. “That is the hardest thing that has happened to us.”
Watch this video report posted online by KENS-TV: