A Texan police officer was fired in early January after dash cam footage from December showed the officer tasing a 76-year-old man — twice.
The dash cam footage showed Nathaniel Robinson of the Victoria Police Department pulling over septuagenarian Peter Vasquez outside of a convenience store, on account of Vasquez’s expired inspection sticker.
While Vasquez explained to Robinson that he was operating a dealer’s car, and thus didn’t need a current sticker, Robinson abruptly grabbed the 76-year-old man’s arm, wrestled him to the ground, and then shot him two times with a Taser.
Vasquez was then taken to a nearby hospital in handcuffs, and was never cited for any crime.
“If the officer’s going to react in the situation like this, the way that he did, I would hate to see his reaction in something that was really serious,” said 62-year-old witness Larry Urich to the Victoria Advocate.
The Victoria Police Department put Robinson on administrative leave while investigating the incident, and announced his termination on January 5, saying that the office had violated the department’s policies on conduct and use of force.
Robinson may still face criminal charges.
“This is a very unfortunate incident for everyone involved,” said Victoria Police Chief Jeff Craig in the news release. “The Victoria Police Department places a high value in public trust.”
Another Victoria resident, however, believes that both parties were in the wrong after reviewing the footage, and believes that Robinson should have received more training instead of getting fired.
“It’s not an example of what the officer did wrong but more of the lack of training the officer received. He doesn’t lack common sense,” said 25-year-old Victoria resident Samuel Sweat to the Victoria Advocate. “What he lacks is the knowledge about the plates and the escalation of force. Rules of escalation need to be taught.”
Dash cams and body cameras have been shown to successfully hold officers responsible for their actions, as was the case with Robinson. Knowing they can be fully held accountable for their actions, police officers are less likely to use excessive force, or act outside police departments’ codes of conduct.
In fact, one study by the Police Foundation found that after police were made to wear body cameras, complaints filed against them dropped by a whopping 88%, with use of force by officers dropping by 60% all within just 12 months.
“In today’s environment, video of all citizen contacts is critical and expected by both the public and attorney’s for all concerned,” says Jubal Ragsdale, President, 10-8 Video. “While in most situations video can clear an officer of wrongdoing, it can also show when officers do not handle a situation as they should. They can then be disciplined, or trained to handle situations differently in the future. And that is better for the department and the community, and why both in car and body cameras are so beneficial today.”
Hopefully, officers will receive more training in the future so that incidents like this can be avoided.