A Texas man was detained and forcefully arrested by law enforcement for ‘jogging while black’, witnesses said, as officers searched for a different suspect in a nearby domestic violence call.
Mathias Ometu, 33, spent two days in the Bexar County Jail after he was arrested by two San Antonio Police Department officers this week.
The department has since acknowledged that Ometu was not the suspect they were looking for, and the victim corroborated that fact, but he was still charged and taken into custody.
Mayor Ron Nirenburg has now called full investigation into the incident.
Cell phone footage of the two San Antonio Police Department officers roughly shoving Ometu into the back of a police cruiser while he screams ‘you’re choking me’ several times.
Cell phone footage shows Mathias Ometu (center) being forcefully shoved into a police cruiser on Tuesday in San Antonio, Texas
The officers, including one black man, wrestle a handcuffed Ometu head first into the back seat and begin pushing him by his feet.
‘The only thing he did was not give his name. He was just jogging,’ witness Jennifer Rodriguez says in the footage. ‘I walked right past him.’
‘I can’t believe this is happening right here,’ he boyfriend, Victor Maas, chimes in as sirens blare in the background.
‘And of course, here come some more cops. I’m sure they’re going to make it worse.’
Ometu continues to scream in pain as the officers eventually detain him in the police vehicle after a three-minute struggle.
Witnesses who recorded the encounter said Ometu was not aggressive with officers and was arrested for ‘jogging while black’
According to a police report obtained by CNN, Ometu was seen walking out of an apartment complex on Tuesday afternoon as officers dispatched to a 911 call about a man suspected of punching and choking a woman.
The two officers stopped Ometu, an insurance adjuster, because they had ‘reasonable suspicion to believe’ he ‘matched the description of an alleged strangulation family violence incident.’
Mathias Ometu (pictured in mugshot) was charged with two counts assault on a peace officer despite not being the initial suspect
Officers asked Ometu several times for his name and date of birth, but he refused to respond, the police report said.
The Texas Penal Code states that a person being detained or questioned by police is not required to provide identifying information.
Ometu refused to get into the police cruiser and was ‘placed in the patrol vehicle’ following a ‘long struggle…using only open hand techniques,’ the report said.
Police alleged that Ometu kicked the officers, striking one in the face, during the struggle.
The domestic violence victim met with officers after Ometu was detained and explained that he was not the intended suspect.
Ometu was still transported to Municipal Court for ‘identification purposes,’ according to the report. He was charged with two counts of assault on a peace officer.
LEFT a 2017 mugshot of Darren Anthony Smith Jr. a domestic violence suspect w/ robbery warrant SAPD was searching for Tuesday.
— Aaron Wright (@AaronKENS5) August 29, 2020
He was initially assigned to a court-appointed defense attorney who died in 2011. Court records show that another lawyer has since been appointed to him.
A police department spokeswoman said in a statement released Thursday that the incident was under administrative review.
‘The individual contacted was in close proximity to the call, and he matched the physical and clothing description provided by the victim,’ the statement said, which did not indicate whether their intended suspect had been apprehended.
Rodriguez, who witnessed the incident with her Maas, told CNN that at no time did Ometu appear aggressive with the officers.
Additional footage taken by Rodriguez shows Ometu handcuffed and calmly standing by the police cruiser for around six minutes before officers begin pushing him.
Rodriguez said she was walking her dog around 2pm that day when she saw Ometu jogging.
During the incident, Ometu was seen struggling with officers and yelling ‘you’re choking me’ several times
The San Antonio Police Department has admitted that Ometu was not the initial suspect and the victim told corroborated that fact
Suddenly, police arrived and approached Ometu to speak with him. After about 20 minutes they placed him in handcuffs.
That’s when she knocked on the nearby office window of Maas and the pair began filming the incident.
‘His crime was jogging while black. They made up any reason to harass this guy,’ Maas wrote on Facebook regarding the footage.
Maas also alleged that the officers used Tasers on Ometu, but that was not shown in video footage.
The couple said the incident lasted around an hour, but they only captured 20 minutes of the encounter.
The Bexar County District Attorney’s Office is waiting for the police department to finish their investigation before they will ‘review all evidence and decide how to proceed with any potential criminal case,’ attorney Joe Gonzales told CNN.
In a statement, the San Antonio Police Department defended the action of its officers.
Victor Ometu: ‘You can’t just arrest someone for anything. I imagine he’s scared. He’s never been in trouble before’
Posted by Victor Maas on Tuesday, 25 August 2020
‘The suspect fled before police arrived, but the victim provided officers with the suspect’s information and officers also obtained information that the suspect was also wanted for a felony robbery warrant,’ the statement read.
‘The individual contacted was in close proximity to the call and he matched the physical and clothing description provided by the victim.
‘That was the only reason he was stopped and questioned as the officers legitimately believed he was the wanted suspect.’
The department added that video of the incident will be reviewed to ensure proper protocol was followed.
San Antonio Mayor Nirenberg spoke out against the incident and said he wants an investigation conducted.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg has called for an investigation into the incident after video surfaced on social media
Julian Castro, a former presidential hopeful, also publicly condemned the incident on Twitter
‘I am seeking a full accounting of this incident, which is currently under investigation. We have to approach this situation seriously because every single resident deserves fair and equitable treatment from their city,’ he wrote on Twitter.
Julian Castro, a former presidential hopeful, also publicly condemned the incident on Twitter.
‘Mathias Ometu was jogging in San Antonio and was wrongfully detained by SATXPolice,’ he wrote.
Victor Ometu, Mathias Ometu’s father, said that he contacted his son’s friend, who paid a portion of Mathias Ometu’s bail, which was set at $20,000.
Mathias Ometu was in the process of being released Thursday, officials said.
‘You can’t just arrest someone for anything,’ Victor Ometu said. ‘I imagine he’s scared. He’s never been in trouble before.’