DALLAS – The Dallas Police Department fired Officer Jesus Martinez Monday afternoon and then charged him with official oppression, a Class A misdemeanor, for using excessive force against a panhandler.
A passerby recorded part of the incident on video showing Ofc. Martinez, 30, sitting on the handcuffed suspect, Joe Wesson, 57, who did not appear to be resisting.
"He was attacked by this guy, maced this guy, and then was blinded by his own mace and was holding on until cover arrived," Richard Todd, Fraternal Order of Police president, said.
News 8 first reported the story in July after Wesson complained that Martinez went too far.
When the video begins, it shows Wesson already in handcuffs, apparently complying with Martinez's command, yet the policeman still sits on top of him and yanks Wesson's arm over his head several times.
"He was actually kneeing me in my back and pulled both my arms in the air like he was trying to break both of them," Wesson told News 8 in July.
"The video showed Officer Martinez using his right knee to pin the pedestrian's right elbow down while raising the pedestrian's left elbow and hand upward causing him severe pain," Dallas police said in a news release. "Officer Martinez holds the pedestrian in this position for approximately 40 seconds. At one point, Officer Martinez raised the pedestrian's left elbow until it touched the back of his head. During the video, the pedestrian could be heard screaming in pain. This continued for approximately 45 more seconds until cover officers arrived."
"I can understand disciplining him but firing him and arresting him is excessive," Todd added.
"Another independent witness observed Officer Martinez and the pedestrian exchange words and then Officer Martinez followed the pedestrian and subsequently tackled him. The witness also gave an account of the incident as described on the video and did not see any resistance," DPD's statement said. "An Internal Affairs investigation concluded that Officer Martinez used unnecessary and/or inappropriate force against a citizen."
On Monday afternoon, police charged Martinez with official oppression, a Class A misdemeanor.
"They take your badge, your gun, and your freedom because you're out doing the job they ordered you to go do," Todd continued.
The Fraternal Order of Police said Martinez has earned 17 awards and commendations since Dallas hired him in 2006.
Martinez will likely appeal his firing. The FOP said he can't do so until he settles the criminal charge against him.