A police officer from Victoria, Tex., was placed on administrative leave on Friday after he used a stun gun on a 76-year-old driver he had pulled over for driving a car with an expired inspection sticker.
Dashboard camera video shows the officer, Nathanial Robinson, tackling Pete Vasquez to the ground in an attempt to handcuff him. Police said that Robinson, 23, used the a Taser on the man twice, .
The incident occurred Thursday, when Vasquez, who works as a mechanic, was pulled over while driving a dealer car back to the lot at Adam’s Auto Mart. Robinson left his patrol vehicle and pointed out the expired sticker, the dashboard camera shows. He appears to reach for Vasquez’s arm, but the man pulls away.
“I’m putting the handcuffs on. Put your hands on the back of your back,” Vasquez said Robinson told him according to . “And then I turn around, and he pulls that Taser, and he shot me with it. And, you know, it looked like he’s enjoying that.”
According to the audio of a conversation with another officer on the scene, which was included in the dashboard camera footage, Vasquez said: “He came over here and got nasty with me. I’m not going to put up with it, I don’t care who it is. Then he grabbed me an throw [sic] me on the pavement there, almost knocked my head on that d— poll, then he started Tasing.”
“I hit my knees and my back… my shoulder and everything else,” Vasquez said.
According to Vasquez, the officer discharged the Taser once to his chest when they fell to the ground, then again in the leg when Robinson demanded that Vasquez stand up.
Several witnesses saw the incident, including Larry Urich, a 62-year-old sales manager at the dealership
“I told the officer, ‘What in the hell are you doing?’ This gentleman is 76 years old,” Urich said, according to the Advocate. “The cop told me to stand back, but I didn’t shut up. I told him he was a [expletive] Nazi Stormtrooper.”
The department has launched an internal investigation into the arrest. According to the Advocate, Robinson was hired by the police force two years ago after he graduated from the police academy.
Urich said Vasquez tried to explain to Robinson that the car belonged to the dealer and had special dealer’s plates that did not require a current inspection sticker, KPRC reported. The dashcam video clearly shows Vasquez pointing out the car’s license plate to the officer.
Craig said he personally apologized to Vasquez, who was not charged with any wrongdoing, according to the Advocate.Victoria Police Chief J.J. Craig confirmed that while an expired inspection sticker is usually addressed with a citation, cars with dealer tags are exempt.
“Public trust is extremely important to us,” said Craig, according to the Advocate. “Sometimes that means you have to take a real hard look at some of the actions that occur within the department.”
Vasquez was taken to the hospital, still handcuffed, in a police car.
“There should have been an ambulance called for this elderly gentleman,” Urlich, who followed the police car to the hospital, told the Advocate. “He should not have been handcuffed to go to the emergency room when he had not done anything wrong.”
“It sickens me,” Urich said.