Two McAllen police officers are leaving the force after a video showed an apparent assault of a man in handcuffs during a May 13 arrest, according to city documents and the video.
Officer Ulysses Bautista was fired and Officer Luis Zuniga submitted his resignation, effective Sept. 9, in the wake of the incident that was captured on police video.
The incident occured around 1 a.m. when Zuniga pulled over Aaron Soto, 23, on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. As Zuniga was placing Soto in the back of his vehicle, the suspect spit on the officer, according to the documents.
Zuniga then pulled Soto from the back seat, out of the vehicle and threw him on the ground face down, the video shows. Bautista, who was assisting with the arrest, kicked Soto, who was still handcuffed. Pictures show bruises, blood and scrapes on Soto’s face.
The Police Department conducted an internal investigation of the arrest. The McAllen City Commissioners were not made aware of this incident until last week when the agenda for the Monday, July 25 commission meeting was released. The commission was briefed on the matter during Monday’s executive session by City Attorney Kevin Pagan.
The incident has been reported to the Hidalgo County District Attorney, Department of Justice and FBI.
Police Chief Victor Rodriguez said Wednesday that if an officer is spit on, the officer should file charges as an assault.
“The officer who was spit on this case, in my view, used unnecessary force,” Rodriguez said. “And throwing him to the ground is unnecessary. The officer already had the individual in custody.”
Rodriguez said there is no specific protocol when an officer is spit on, other than an officer should file charges.
“We should be better than this,” Rodriguez said. “We won’t tolerate this kind of behavior.”