Activists claim excessive force used during student's arrest at Willowbrook Mall

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A 22-year-old says he was approached by an officer for riding his hoverboard through a mall and ended up spending the night in jail for a charge of resisting arrest. (KTRK)

The video of college student Jesse Valdez inside Willowbrook Mall being arrested has ricocheted around social media for the past two days.

Now, Valdez and his supporters say the arrest was unjust. They are demanding that the Precinct 4 Constable Deputy seen arresting him on the video to be fired.

"I've been watching the video over and over when I got out of jail; it brings tears to my eyes. I just can't take it," says Valdez, who was surrounded by his family, his pastor and community activist Deric Muhammad.

The group held a news conference in front of Willowbrook Mall Monday afternoon.

Valdez says he was riding a small Segway, a motorized scooter type device, around the mall Saturday night with the Precinct 4 Deputy Constable asked him to get off the device.

"The officer asked me to get off the Segway, and I asked him if this is a rule, or the law that I have to get off the Segway," recalled Valdez. "Instead of politely answering my question, he used force and took me off the Segway."

Valdez says he was pulled off, allegedly thrown against the wall, threatened with a Taser, and then placed under arrest.

The video taken by his brother, Michael Roulhac, only begins after Valdez is already on the ground, being handcuffed. In it, you can hear both brothers repeatedly question the deputy on the arrest. Some profanity is also audible. In addition, you can see on the video a large crowd gathered around the incident.

Precinct 4 is standing behind the arrest of Valdez. It released the following statement Monday afternoon:

    "On Saturday, September 19, 2015, at 7:30pm, a Precinct 4 Deputy was working at Willowbrook Mall, and was in the course and scope of his duties as a police officer. The deputy was alerted to an individual riding a self-propelled device, which was a violation of rules at the Mall and created a safety concern for patrons. When the deputy confronted the subject on the device, the subject became belligerent and began to use profanity to the deputy with small children and parents nearby.

    The deputy attempted to detain the suspect for disorderly conduct, at which time, the suspect resisted.

    The Harris County District Attorney's office was contacted and presented the facts of the case, and accepted a charge of resisting arrest on the suspect Jesse J. Valdez.

    Constable Mark Herman, 'As with all cases involving use of force by our deputies, a use of force board will convene to ensure all department policies were followed.'"


Besides the charges against Valdez, the constable's office says charges could be pending against the brother for agitating the situation.

"I was completely unknowing of any charges against me," said Roulhac, who says he first heard about potential charges from the media. "I didn't interfere in anyway, considering when I was recording, my brother was already in handcuffs."

Both brothers have had previous misdemeanor brushes with the law, ranging from trespassing to minor drug offenses. Their supporters say that's unrelated to this case.

"If he (the deputy) knew neither one of them before he approached them, then their history has no bearing whatsoever on what it is we're talking about," Muhammad said.