An El Paso police officer is under investigation for an incident where he drew his weapon on children over a trespassing charge. Cell phone video of the altercation has gone viral.
America is on fire!
An El Paso cop pointed his gun at a group of children. A boy is pulled to the ground & handcuffed. The cop extends his nightstick & yells at the group to get back. Then the boy recording the video is handcuffed. pic.twitter.com/hxi6H33ObQ
— Indivisible Network (@IndivisibleNet) July 8, 2018
The kid recording the viral video was arrested Thursday after saying he would report the officer who drew both a firearm and a baton in response to children swearing at him during the arrest.
“This is why I fucking hate cops, pointing a gun at us and shit,” one child can be heard saying.
The El Paso Police Department launched an investigation over the weekend, and the officer in question has been reassigned to desk duty.
“This is a serious matter that will be thoroughly investigated,” spokesman Sgt. Enrique Carrillo told the local ABC affiliate. “All the facts, circumstances and events that led to the incident will be looked into. As such no further comment will be made at this point.”
The escalation from criminal trespassing to drawing firearms on a crowd of children isn’t shown in the cell phone video, but Elizabeth Flores said that police choked her son before the camera started rolling.
“He chokes me like I had, like, a short breath but right after he had me on the floor and he grabbed my hair I was [barely] breathing,” said Elizabeth’s son, Jacob Flores.
Neither child arrested was charged with the initial criminal trespass, instead both were charged with interfering with the duties of a police officer.
Police rules of engagement are far more lax than those in the military, so much so in fact that a former veteran was fired from a police job for not shooting a suspect attempting what’s called ‘suicide by cop’.
Even still, it’s hard to imagine how police rules of engagement allow an officer to draw his weapon on children armed only with bad words. Although, considering this wasn’t the only time in recent months a police officer was caught on camera behaving brutally toward children, the problem may be far more broad than individual officers. The rules of engagement themselves may need closer scrutiny.
Systemically, the idea that a police officer’s life and safety are more important than a civilian’s during an altercation is what lead to the example of the officer fired for not shooting a suspect who wanted to be gunned down by police. It also has lead to a case several years ago where a cop drew his firearm on three teenagers who did not flee, did not reach for anything but were simply present. It also leads to shooting fleeing suspects in the back.
If the El Paso officer is one bad apple, he’s grown in a toxic orchard where the rules of engagement made him feel justified in drawing his weapon on unarmed children. He was outnumbered. He was probably afraid. And these facts, in the system of police engagement, made him feel justified to threaten children with death.
Only time will tell if he acted inappropriately in the eyes of the El Paso Police Department. Grit Post attempted to contact the Department for this story, but the voicemail box of the press officer was full at the time of this reporting.