Police chief defends arrest of Black jogger; DA drops case

2 years 3 months 4 days ago Tuesday, September 01 2020 Sep 1, 2020 September 01, 2020 4:21 PM September 01, 2020 in News - AP Texas Headlines

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — San Antonio police officers “acted appropriately” in their arrest of a Black jogger, even though they misidentified him as an assault suspect based on a sketchy description, their chief said Tuesday.

Even so, Chief William McManus said he and Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales have agreed to drop the case and expunge the record of the Aug. 28 arrest of Mathias Ometu.

A woman called the police for assistance, saying her ex-husband had assaulted her. According to police body-camera video released Tuesday, the victim described her assailant as a black man wearing a green shirt who fled on foot.

A short time later, the officers spotted Ometu, a 33-year-old insurance adjuster for USAA, on his afternoon jog. When one officer tried to question him, Ometu asserted his right not to answer and said he was just working out. The confrontation gradually escalated as the officers persisted in their questioning and Ometu continued to insist he had done nothing wrong.

McManus said last week that officers struggled to put Ometu into the back seat of their patrol car because he resisted. The woman finally arrived at the scene and told police that Ometu was not the man who assaulted her.

By then, the officers had charged Ometu with two counts of felony assault on a police officer for kicking them, one of them in the face, and he spent the next two days in jail until the officers dropped their complaint.

Dennis Anthony Smith Jr., 25, the true suspect, was arrested the same day on an unrelated 2018 robbery warrant.

McManus said in a statement that Ometu should have cooperated.

“The situation could have been resolved within minutes with any degree of information sharing with the police officers that would have helped them determine Mr. Ometu was not the suspect they were looking for,” he said.

Ometu's attorney, Adam Kobs, expressed thanks for the decision to not pursue a prosecution, but said that didn't absolve the department.

“The San Antonio Police Department is far from blameless. They falsely accused and unjustly arrested an innocent Black man," Kobs said. "SAPD’s misconduct needs to be investigated and we expect a future inquiry and examination to occur.”

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