WARNING: DISTRESSING VIDEO BELOW
Excessive Force Used on Teen Suffering from Severe Depression
(TX) – May 12, 2020, an administrator from a juvenile facility called police because of an aggressive child. The 16-year old boy did not want to go to class and would not come out of the bathroom. The child suffers from severe depression and ADHD and had originally been placed due to a criminal mischief charge. He had become angry and broken some bed posts and a plastic container before going into the bathroom.
Bexar County deputies responded to the call. Deputy Patrick Divers was the first to enter the facility. Divers “had repeatedly been told that the child…understood little English.” Deputy Divers made no effort to investigate the situation, he just asked if they wanted to press charges. Once they said yes, he waited for his partner, Deputy Harold Schneider, to come in then immediately said, “Ready? I’m going to tase this kid.”
The deputies chose to speak in English without asking the staff to translate what they said into Spanish. They told the teen to stand up. He did. Then Divers tased him for 35 seconds even though the teen was not displaying any physical aggression toward the officers.
The child showed no signs of fighting back or resisting arrest. Divers then repeatedly pulsed the weapon on the child’s torso and thighs. In all, the 16-year-old experienced 35 seconds of electric current running through his body, rendering him immobile. Divers’ partner eventually cuffed the teen, who was dripping blood; it’s unclear what caused the bleeding.
Schneider cuffed the child and when asked where they were taking him, Schneider responded by calling him stupid in Spanish.
Deputies Resort to Police Brutality
This incident is an example of how willing law enforcement officers are to resort to brutality and violence. The child was angry. He had broken some items and he was screaming comments indicating resistance. What he wasn’t doing was getting physical with people. He never showed any physical aggression toward the officers.
Instead of trying to speak to him or physically take him into custody, they tased him. That is an escalation of force that was not justified by the circumstances. They did not tell the teen he was being arrested and the video never records them giving the teen his Miranda rights.
Sheriff Calls for Internal Affairs Investigation
Sheriff Javier Salazar, who claims not to have known of the incident, has initiated an internal affairs investigation. According to KSAT 12 News, “the deputy involved has been placed on administrative leave.” The problem with that is there were two deputies involved. Why was only one placed on administrative leave? Doesn’t the second deputy have a responsibility to stop excessive force by his partner? Or at the very least, report it?
Salazar Turns a Blind Eye Toward Law Enforcement
Sheriff Javier Salazar used to be a law enforcement officer with the San Antonio Police Department. He has repeatedly shown he has no respect for his detention officers, but makes excuses for his law enforcement officers. On the detention side, use of force incidents are reviewed. Officers who know of abuses and fail to report are held accountable.
Why aren’t those same safeguards in place for law enforcement officers? Sheriff Salazar said he didn’t know about this incident. Why didn’t he know? It seems he frequently ‘doesn’t know’ when the perpetrator is a law enforcement officer. Or if he does know about the misconduct of a law enforcement officer, he drags his feet in addressing the situation. Detention officers are acted on immediately, but law enforcement officers are protected as long as possible.
The Hypocrisy of Sheriff Salazar
The officers at the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office have a nickname for Sheriff Salazar. It’s Hollywood Javie due to his constant desire to be in front of media cameras. However, “When Reveal requested to interview Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar about the incident, his spokesperson said she was unaware of the case.” No one there would have turned down an interview for him without his instruction to do so. He hid behind his spokesperson.
Salazar is always talking about transparency, but if he hides something we, naturally, don’t know because it’s hidden. Reveal made an open records request for the video of the abuse of this migrant teen.
According to KSAT 12 News,
After releasing the video, however, the open records officer for the sheriff’s office asked a Reveal reporter to destroy the video because it was released accidentally. In a statement to KSAT 12 News, the sheriff’s office indicated it would not turn over the footage because it is an active investigation and the footage involves a minor.
Sheriff’s Office Gives Poor Excuses
If the open records officer released the video it’s because he thought it was okay to do so. He then probably let someone know that the media had it so the sheriff could be prepared to make a statement. It would seem someone told him to try to stop the release of the information. That’s not transparency.
The excuses used to block the release of the information was that it was a youth and it was under investigation. They did not need to release the name of the youth and could have blurred his face like Reveal did. The subject being a youth is not a valid reason. As for the investigation, there wouldn’t be an investigation if the video had not been released. It took a news agency to find the problem. Sheriff Salazar will never find what he is not looking for.
RevealNews.org has a more extensive article and additional video footage on their site. We highly recommend it.