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Texas Cop Uses Taser on Senior Citizen
Victoria, TX - A Victoria police officer is under investigation after a 76-year-old man accused him of using excessive force during a traffic stop. The officer, Nathanial Robinson, 23, was placed on administrative duty Friday pending the outcome of an internal investigation into whether he violated the use of force policy when he tased Victoria resident Pete Vasquez, said Chief J.J. Craig. The officer was hired after graduating from the police academy two years ago. The incident happened Thursday after Robinson saw an expired inspection sticker on the car Vasquez was driving back to Adam's Auto Mart, 2801 N. Laurent St., where he helps with mechanical work. Vasquez got out of the car, which is owned by the car lot, attempting to get the manager. He pointed out to the officer the dealer tags on the back of the car, which would make it exempt from having an inspection. Police dashboard camera video shows Robinson arresting Vasquez for the expired sticker. When the officer first grabbed Vasquez's arm, the older man pulled it away. Robinson then pushed Vasquez down on the hood of the police cruiser. The two fell out of the camera's video frame, but police said the officer used the Taser on Vasquez twice while he was on the ground. "He just acted like a pit bull, and that was it," Vasquez said. "For a while, I thought he was going to pull his gun and shoot me." Vasquez was handcuffed, placed in the back of the police cruiser and taken to Citizens Medical Center, where he remained in police custody for two hours. Craig said the police department's dash cam footage "raises some concerns." He decided to open the investigation after viewing the footage and has personally apologized to Vasquez for the incident. "Public trust is extremely important to us," Craig said. "Sometimes that means you have to take a real hard look at some of the actions that occur within the department." The internal investigation also will examine the details of the arrest. Driving with an expired inspection sticker is a Class C misdemeanor, typically addressed with a citation. Because Vasquez was driving a car with dealer tags, the car was exempt, Craig confirmed. Vasquez was released from the hospital without being cited. If the investigation finds Robinson violated the use of force policy, his possible punishment ranges from a letter of reprimand to suspension without pay or termination, Craig said. District Attorney Stephen Tyler said he has not been contacted by police about the case or seen the video. First, authorities must determine whether criminal wrongdoing, moral wrongdoing or a policy violation occurred. Possible charges include official oppression, injury to elderly, aggravated assault and assault, he said.