Victoria police officer on paid leave as Taser investigation intensifies

VICTORIA, TX (KTRK) -- Victoria police say an internal affairs investigation and a criminal investigation by the Texas Rangers are underway following an incident involving the shocking of an elderly man during a traffic stop.

The key eyewitness says he watched the start of the incident on surveillance from inside Adam's Auto Mart. Larry Urich says he has known 76-year-old Peter Vasquez, the man police pulled over, for more than 30 years. Police say they pulled Vasquez over initially for an expired inspection certificate. Vasquez pulled into the Auto Mart on Laurent Street, a place he has worked off and on for years.

Police Officer Nathanial Robinson walked up to the car and both walked to the rear of the vehicle. Vasquez says he tried explaining he had temporary tags and didn't need the inspection certificate yet.

Urich says, "I witnessed the officer grabbing him by the arm, shoving him into the front of his police cruiser, tackling him."

Officer Robinson tried to place him under arrest before they struggled and went to the ground. Urich had gone outside in the meantime and saw the officer deploy his stun gun on Vasquez twice. Officer Robinson tried to place him under arrest, they struggled and went to the ground. Urich had moved outside at that point and then says he witnessed the officer shock Vasquez twice.

Urich says, "It's not easy. All I can tell you about the situation and what I saw is that it's very disturbing to me. It was a situation that never should have happened had the officer known the law."

Officer Robinson is on paid administrative leave right now. He's been with the department two years and Victoria Police Chief Jeff Craig says he has had no prior allegations of misconduct.

The Vasquez family has hired the law firm Cummings and Messer.

Attorney Rachel Messer says, "We do believe his actions were unlawful and I think a lot of people agree with that."

Craig says he has seen the video and met with Mr. Vasquez. He asked for patience during the internal affairs and criminal investigations. When asked about the Taser policy, the chief said, "They're required to only use that amount of force which is necessary to overcome resistance."

Urich says he believes this was an isolated incident and hopes he never has to witness something like it again.

"I hope that justice is served and to me justice in this case, would be charges to the officer," Urich says.

Chief Craig says they have had 10 Taser incidents this year and all were within policy. The internal affairs investigation could be complete within a week with the criminal investigation by the Texas Rangers wrapping up by the end of the year.

The City of Victoria also released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying an interview on a web site claiming to be with Officer Robinson is fake and the city has asked all sites posting the interview to take it down.
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taserpolice brutality
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