Texas officials are investigating after recently released body camera footage obtained by the nonprofit news outlet Reveal showed an officer shooting a taser, an electro-shock weapon, at a migrant teenager in a refuge.
The footage, which the outlet said it obtained under a Texas state records law from the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO), showed an agent responding to a shelter in San Antonio run by federal government contractor Southwest. Key and deploying a taser at a 16-year-old teenager who was reportedly angry and aggressive.
In a statement to CNN, the sheriff’s office said officers responded to the installation on May 12, 2020, after a caller reported that a minor had become “furious and uncooperative” and “damaged multiple poles. out of bed and destroyed storage containers. ‘
When officers arrived at the shelter, they contacted the caller and “gave the minor verbal orders and when the minor did not comply, the responding officer beat him up and then detained him,” the sheriff’s office said. .
Body camera video obtained by Reveal showed the agent speaking for several minutes with shelter staff, who decide they want to press charges against the teen.
The images show the teenager speaking to staff in Spanish, who tried to get him out of a bathroom and calm him down, while officers gave orders in English. The teenager is heard repeatedly cursing the shelter staff and the officer nearby.
“Clever? I’m going to talk to this boy, ”an agent was heard saying in English.
The agent tells the teen to stand up and turn around, then quickly deploys his taser. Reveal’s report said the taser was used for about 35 seconds.
“After BCSO learned of this incident, Sheriff Javier Salazar immediately launched an Internal Affairs investigation to investigate any wrongdoing that may have occurred,” the sheriff’s office told CNN in a statement. The office said it was alerted to the incident last month, “which is when the internal investigation began. Shortly after, the agent was put on administrative leave.
The sheriff’s office said it would not provide a copy of the images to CNN, “because the video contains a minor, and this incident is under administrative investigation.”
Southwest Key, which operates the facility, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Department of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services (HHS) also did not immediately respond.
Representative Joaquín Castro, representing San Antonio, where the shelter is located, called the video “horrifying and a clear example of excessive force and excessive surveillance” and called for an investigation by the HHS Inspector General.
“I urge that the inspector general of the US Department of Health and Human Services conduct a full investigation of this incident, as well as the Department’s policy regarding the use of local law enforcement and a review of the training of employees of the migrant shelter about informed trauma care practices, ”Castro said.
“No matter who you are or where you come from, everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect by law enforcement. The incident reaffirms the importance of quickly placing these minors without their parents in the care of relatives or sponsors in the United States while their asylum cases are resolved.