A surveillance video (below) of a 71-year-old veteran being slammed to the floor of the El Paso Veterans Affairs Clinic in Texas by three officers on Feb. 16 surfaced on May 26.
"You know, they could have killed me," Jose Oliva said, recalling his check up VA visit to KVIA.
"Just to spend one year in a combat zone, and lucky to survive, I never, ever came to being hurt so much as I did on this day," the Vietnam veteran added.
But the local VA defended the actions of its officers, stating it was necessary for everyone's safety.
VA cops told Oliva to empty his pockets before going through a metal detector as he entered the VA. Oliva obliged, and emptied the contents of his pockets into a plastic bucket.
The cops then asked Oliva to produce his ID, which was one of the objects he placed in the bucket. Oliva tried to explain this to the officers for about three minutes before finally attempting to walk through the metal detector.
At that moment, the alarm went off and three guards allegedly tackled him Oliva to the ground.
In the video, Oliva is quickly taken down to the floor by three VA officers who handcuffed the veteran, interrogated him and charged him with disorderly conduct.
Oliva said the incident led to his shoulder and throat surgery, and a lawsuit against the VA clinic.
"I've seen my psychiatrist three times, and he told me my PTSD treatment that he started with me over a year ago just got shot," Oliva stated.
The VA issued a statement that said the officers' take-down of the unarmed senior was necessary for safety reasons, KVIA reports:
After the incident on February 16, 2016, the officers involved were interviewed and videotapes of the incident were reviewed by representatives from the Office of Security and Law Enforcement (OS&LE) and Law Enforcement Training Center....The investigators found that the charge of excessive use of force leveled by the Veteran could not be substantiated. Our Police Service takes seriously its role to safeguard our Veterans, family members, volunteers and employees while they are on our campus. Our officers' focus is to promote a safe and secure environment and prevent criminal activity.
The El Paso VA Health Care System's "core values" include: "Integrity: Act with high moral principle. Adhere to the highest professional standards. Maintain the trust and confidence of all with whom I engage," and "Advocacy: Be truly Veteran-centric by identifying, fully considering, and appropriately advancing the interests of Veterans and other beneficiaries," according to its website.