The City of San Antonio has finally released an in-car police video (below), filmed on Aug. 1, 2015, that shows a police officer freeing a suspect from handcuffs and challenging him to a fight.
The city used taxpayer money to pay lawyers to keep the video from being viewed by taxpayers, but local news station KSAT pursued the release of the video, which happened this week.
The video shows San Antonio Police Officer Matthew Belver telling Eloy Leal: "As soon as they come off, I'm gonna beat your a--, that's what I'm going to do. You ready?"
"There you go, there you go, now you can get out," Belver adds. "Let's go, run, do something, do something."
Leal refuses to engage in violence with Belver and apologizes to the officer, who threatened him with physical injury.
Belver handcuffs Leal, and spews profanity and personal insults at him.
Leal asks why he’s being arrested, and Belver states: "I'll think of something. How about public intoxication, pedestrian in a roadway? Whatever else I can think of."
It is a crime and a possible federal civil rights violation to make a false arrest.
"You had the chance to run, to fight, to do whatever, but you didn't because not only are you stupid, you're a coward," Belver rants at the handcuffed man.
Belver ended up charging Leal with interfering with the duties of a public servant at the scene of a shooting, but that charge was dropped per public records, notes the San Antonio Express-News.
As a result of the video, Belver was indefinitely suspended, but not charged with any crimes. Belver is appealing his suspension.
Mike Helle, president of the San Antonio Police Officer's Association, told KSAT that Belver should not have removed the handcuffs and yelled at Leal, but also offered up a defense for Belver's behavior.
"I think it was the end of his shift, he was tired, he works graveyards and I think that this guy just got underneath his skin and it was something that he shouldn't have let that happen to him," Helle stated.
Belver was also suspended in 2009 for a similar incident, which caused a conviction to be overturned; that suspension was for 30 days.
"Matt had a problem with force issues and I think within the last five to however many years he's been back he has not had a single issue at all," Helle added.
Helle said that there is more video, which he has not seen, that shows Leal being disrespectful to Belver. Helle did not cite any law that criminalizes disrespect.
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