Via Radley Balko, the story of Roger Carlos’ beating in San Antonio reflects a disconnect from reality that ought to shame Police Chief William McManus into, at the very least, a tearful, heartfelt apology. But no, it doesn’t. Not even close.
Roger Carlos was in the 10600 block of Westover Hills Boulevard taking photos of a building that will soon be home to his wife’s medical practice, when he was approached by three officers around 2:30 p.m.
The cops were looking for a drug suspect, Josue Gonzalez, who ditched his car in the parking lot of a restaurant a few hundred feet away. No Gonzalez. One Carlos.
“All three of them started beating me on the head,” said Carlos, who still showed visible signs of the beating when he spoke with KENS 5 weeks after the incident.
“It was unbelievable. I couldn’t believe it was happening to me.”
Carlos said he was struck about 50 times, even though he complied with the officers’ instructions and did not fight back.
Carlos was just a regular guy doing nothing wrong, who suddenly and inexplicably found himself the recipient of some police force. He may not have done anything wrong, or even been noncompliant, but the cops were forced to chase a fleeing suspect, and they hate to run. They were angry, and someone was going to learn what it meant to flee from the cops. No Gonzalez. One Carlos.
Shortly after being handcuffed and explaining to officers that he owned the property, a fourth officer approached and said the suspect was in custody nearby.
In a line that will be long remembered, Radley writes:
Serves him right for standing there looking all Hispanic and stuff.
The three officers involved in the beat down are now under investigation for
possibly using excessive force, after a May 20 incident in west San Antonio left a man with injuries to his face, skull and neck.
Possibly? Because a man who has done nothing whatsoever to justify any force used against him might nonetheless deserve a savage beating? Well, that’s how Chief McManus sees it.
McManus told KENS TV, “From the report that I’ve read, from the photo that I saw and from your description, I’ve not seen anything at this point that would indicate to me that anything out of order happened.”
McManus said the blows were necessary because upon being tackled, Carlos laid on his hands, which made the officers unable to determine if he was clutching a weapon.
When the cops are ignorant, anything goes, because First Rule of Policing.
McManus is right. When unexpectedly and unjustly tackled and beaten by the police, all innocent people have the presence of mind to fall flat on their face, arms and legs splayed wide open. As he was getting beaten, Carlos should have been considerate enough to see the police point of view here. What about their safety? Obviously, only guilty people attempt to break the fall with their hands, or clutch at the places on their bodies that have just been struck with blows.
Stopping at this point, McManus’ perspective, that an innocent man set upon by police deserved a beating because he didn’t appreciate his duty to react in a manner that put the officers’ safety first, is the stuff of insanity. It would be laughably disgraceful, but for the fact that this is the chief of police of San Antonio, Texas, talking about what cops did to a regular guy, doing nothing wrong, for no reason.
But Radley goes the next step.
But what if they’d had the right guy? Would that have justified 50 blows to a suspect who wasn’t fighting back?
While the beating of Roger Carlos was a wholly unjustifiable outrage, or as McManus aptly puts it, a mistake, the beating of “the right guy” happens with some regularity. When you show up in court for arraignment, bloodied and bruised, bones broken, the judge will look down off the bench and inquire what the defendant did to deserve such an excellent beating.
Sure, the defense lawyer will tell the story of how the police set upon the defendant, who didn’t threaten harm to the cops, and beat the daylights out of him. Maybe it was to teach him that fleeing, forcing the police to run and get their shirts all sweaty, had a price. Maybe it was just that they felt like it. Maybe it was because they could. It doesn’t matter.
No one will believe it. The judge won’t. After all, every defendant who shows up for arraignment beaten has a story.
Except this time it was Roger Carlos, the innocent guy whose only offense was to be “standing there looking all Hispanic and stuff.” Even so, Chief McManus is so certain that the world revolves around the welfare of police, and at the expense of the human being who was “mistakenly” beaten, that he can get away with such abject shamelessness.
And the worst part is that he probably can and will. After all, mistakes happen, but the cops weren’t harmed, and isn’t that all that really matters? Right, McManus? Right, Judge? At least the judge can see it through the cops’ eyes, even if the rest of us can’t.