A police officer in Texas was indefinitely suspended after video unearthed by a local TV station appeared to show him repeatedly using the n-word while arresting a young African American man.
According to local ABC affiliate KSAT, San Antonio Police Department officer Tim Garcia and his partner were dispatched to the River Center Mall in the summer of 2018 to deal with 24-year-old Dewaxne Robinson who was allegedly harassing other mall patrons.
Garcia’s body camera footage showed what the outlet termed “a calm Robinson in front of the Macy’s department store surrounded by several security guards as Garcia and his partner approached.”
Robinson told Garcia he felt he was the one being harassed–by mall security. To hear Robinson tell it, he was asked to leave and complied but acted out after security guards began following him and simply “got upset that security would not leave him alone.”
Garcia then gives Robinson a brief summary of trespass law:
My question to you is, ‘If they tell you to leave the mall, are you going to leave the mall?’ If they tell you they don’t want you here and you have to leave, then you have to leave. If you don’t leave, then you’re breaking the law, but you’re not breaking the law by being here. But if they tell you to leave and you don’t leave, then you’re breaking the law, and that’s when I get involved.
Robinson then protested that he didn’t do anything wrong but agreed to provide identification when asked by the two officers.
According to Garcia’s police report of the incident, however, Robinson refused to provide the requested documentation and instead made an “aggressive stance” which police claimed was motivation to apply force and arrest him.
The video footage appears to tell a different story as Robinson calmly says, “No, hold up” before being grabbed and placed in handcuffs.
“All I did was ask a question,” Robinson says.
To which Garcia responded, “Right, and we asked you for ID and you refused to give it to us.”
Then comes the vulgarity and accompanying racist tirade.
Robinson again complains about his predicament using an agricultural term of disdain.
“You know what’s bullshit?” Garcia asks the arrested man. “The way you were raised is bullshit.”
Robinson later complains about his arm being twisted and refers to Garcia as the n-word with an ‘a’ at the end.
Garcia responds by repeating the slur and chastising Robinson’s spelling:
N-word? Do I look like your n-word? Say it right. Put an ‘r’ at the end. If you’re going to say it, don’t call me n-word. I ain’t your n-word.
Again Robinson questions why he’s being arrested.
“For being a fucked up n-word,” the police officer says.
An initial police review gave Garcia a slap on the wrist in the form of a Letter of Reprimand over his “with his use of profanity and slang word ‘n-word’,” read the initial review signed off on by two lieutenants.
A deputy chief took another look at the incident and reached a different conclusion–forwarding the matter onto Internal Affairs for a formal investigation. A police review board later recommended indefinite suspension.
San Antonio Police Chief William McManus agreed with that call.
“That was not reprimandable conduct by any means. Indefinitely suspending the officer was the only remedy to this particular situation,” McManus told KSAT. “That kind of behavior is not in accordance with our guiding principles. So the whole thing, from start to finish, right after start to finish, was just as wrong as wrong can be.”
Garcia’s attorney Morris Munoz later issued a statement disagreeing with the department’s move.
“While we respect Chief McManus’ right to issue disciplinary actions, we respectfully disagree with his decision to terminate my client, San Antonio Police Officer Tim Garcia in lieu of a lesser punishment,” the statement reads in part. “Officer Garcia has nearly 19-years of law enforcement experience of which nearly 11-years are with the San Antonio Police Department.”
[image via screengrab/KSAT/San Antonio Police Department]