A South Texas police officer who used a stun gun on a 76-year-old man during a traffic stop for an expired inspection sticker has been fired.
Victoria police said Monday that Nathanial Robinson was fired following an internal affairs investigation into the Dec. 11 incident. Police Chief Jeff Craig said Robinson violated policy areas including conduct and performance, use of force and arrest without warrant.
After Pete Vasquez was pulled over, he pointed out to Robinson the dealer tags on the back of the car, making it exempt from an inspection. As Robinson proceeded to arrest Vasquez, a scuffle ensued and Robinson used the stun gun.
Police say the criminal portion of the investigation, completed by the Texas Rangers, has been forwarded to the district attorney's office for review.
After the incident, Vazquez told NBC’s Houston affiliate KPRC that the officer told him to put his hands on his back and that he would be putting handcuffs on him.
“And then I turn around, and he pulls that Taser, and he shot me with it. And, you know, it looked like he’s enjoying that,” he said, adding that Robinson used the stun gun on him once on the chest when he fell to the ground and then again in the leg.
Larry Urich, a 62-year-old sales manager at the dealership who witnessed the incident, said it sickened him.
“I told the officer, ‘What the hell are you doing? This gentleman is 76 years old,” Ulrich said, according to the Victoria Advocate. “The cop told me to stand back, but I didn’t shut up.”
He said he called Robinson a “goddamned Nazi stormtrooper.”
The Victoria police chief, Jeffrey Craig, told the Advocate he personally apologized to Vasquez for the incident. “Public trust is extremely important to us. Sometimes that means you have to take a real hard look at some of the actions that occur within the department,” he said.
About the media attention his story garnered, Vasquez told the Advocate, "I agree that something has to be done, but I don't want to bash the police department in Victoria. I know there's a lot of good cops here, and I don't want them to think I'm putting them down or saying things that are not true; but there are a couple of bad ones, and they don't need to be on the force."
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.
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