Fort Worth, Texas, Police Officer W. Figueroa was caught on video using pepper spray on some motorcyclists who were driving past his squad car on March 13 (video below).
Figueroa was pulled from patrol and placed on administrative duties on March 14 while the police department conducts an investigation into the incident.
According to The Star-Telegram, Figueroa had pulled over a pickup truck and was issuing citations when the bikers passed by.
In the video, filmed by motorcyclist Jack Kinney on his GoPro camera, Figueroa is seen pulling his pepper spray canister out and spraying it at the bikers.
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“It’s like [the officer] wasn’t focused on the truck," Kinney told the newspaper. "He was focused on the group [of riders]. Then I saw some white or yellow cloud. Through the mirror it was smaller. I couldn’t really tell what was going on.”
The Fort Worth Police Department said that it got several calls about motorcyclists and reckless driving, but Kinney denied the claims and accused the police of running a “propaganda campaign to try to mitigate the damage.”
“What’s in the video?" Kinney said. "The people at that time, they weren’t committing any crime. They were driving slower than the speed limit and they got pepper sprayed for it.”
Cpl. Tracey Knight, a police spokeswoman, said that she could not state the reason that Figueroa gave for using the pepper spray due to the internal investigation.
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According to NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth, a police incident report says that Figueroa pulled over a red pickup truck for "blocking traffic to [record] motorcycles driving recklessly."
Brittany Botella, the pregnant woman driving the pickup truck, told the news station that she saw mace being sprayed toward the bikers, and then the spray drifted over to her and her passengers.
Botella said that one of her passengers, Markus Hernandez, ended up hospitalized, breathing treatments administered because of the spray.
Botella added that the police officer originally confiscated their cellphones, but later returned their property.