Freeport officer out of a job

March 31, 2009 9:16:53 PM PDT
A Freeport police officer is out of a job, all for what he did three weeks ago on the job. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

The chief of the Freeport Police Department says he fired the officer for attacking a mentally challenged man and pepper-spraying him.

The confrontation happened on March 9 at the intersection of Avenue I and Skinner. Somehow, Officer Chris Bake mistook a vehicle the mentally challenged man was riding in for a stolen one. In an effort to stop it, Bake rear-ended the SUV.

All four people inside were pulled out and told to sit on the curb. When mentally-challenged 65-year-old Albert Mendoza, who owns the vehicle, became frustrated and stood up, Officer Bake pepper-sprayed him and then gave him a knee to the face.

Most of the incident was captured on video from the police cruiser and it was enough to spark an investigation for excessive use of force.

"Once we did our administrative review of our use of force, we initiated the investigation," said Chief Jeff Pynes with the Freeport Police Department. "I contacted the caretaker of the victim and asked them to come in because I was concerned about what I saw and that time, I immediately removed him from the streets."

Bake's badge and weapon were confiscated last Friday. The case has now been referred to the Brazoria County district attorney's office for review.

As for Mendoza, he suffered a bruise to the eye and cuts to the back of the head. He and his family also relocated to nearby Clute.

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