Three San Antonio police officers — who were suspended 15 days each for the brutal assault of an innocent man — had their suspensions shortened to five days.
Roger Carlos was with his wife on a May afternoon, taking pictures of a building she planned on starting a medical practice in. All of sudden, two SWAT officers and an undercover cop reportedly approached Carlos and started beating him to a pulp.
“These guys, they beat me like a bunch of thugs,” Carlos told KENS 5 News.
Carlos claims the officers struck him about 50 times. He added that he was not fighting back, was completely compliant and explained to the officers that he was the owner of the building as they handcuffed him.
Apparently, the police had been involved in a car chase with a man named Josue Rodriguez, who was wanted on a felony warrant. A fourth officer appeared and informed his colleagues that they arrested Rodriguez nearby. The three San Antonio police officers had apparently brutally attacked the wrong guy.
Carlos suffered injuries to the face, neck and back. He had broken teeth and had two surgeries that reportedly accumulated to $15,000 in medical bills.
“I could understand taking somebody down hard,” Carlos added. “I can understand the need for that and securing them, but that’s not what happened.
"I got on the ground, I was no threat to anybody, I was fully compliant.”
The real culprit had parked his car in the parking lot of a nearby restaurant — a few hundred feet away from the building Carlos was in. Rodriguez, 27, was also beaten. His mugshot showed some minor cuts, a bruised eye and scrapes.
Authorities said they found a sawed-off shotgun in Rodriguez’s car, along with ammunition and 20 grams of methamphetamine. He was charged with possession of an illegal firearm, evading and resisting arrest, and possession of a controlled substance.
The SWAT officers who mistook Carlos for Rodriguez were identified as Carlos Chavez and Virgilo Gonzalez. The undercover cop’s name was not disclosed given the nature of his job.
The San Antonio Police Department’s big three were suspended for 15 days late last year, but Police Chief William McManus cut their punishment to just five days before his retirement.
Anthony Trevino, the new chief, stands by the decision. “Discipline was imposed after careful consideration of all facts,” Trevino said in a statement. “The outcome in this case is indicative of our desire to serve our public and protect the rights of all involved.”
McManus had said in July that he did not see anything that gave him reason to believe the officers used excessive force on Carlos but he refused to offer KENS 5 News any photos of his injuries.
Carlos says he is still in shock that officers could get away with something like this.
“To this day I almost cannot believe it happened to me,” said Carlos, adding that he feels the suspensions were not long enough. “Definitely the benefit of a doubt has gone away as far as SAPD is concerned.”