Yesterday, Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales dropped felony assault charges against Mathias Ometu, a Black man who was arrested after police used a flimsy description of a suspect to assault Ometu as he jogged.
“What happened to Ometu is exactly why we march for Black Lives. The police used a vague description of a Black man to harass this man,” said Deborah Bush, a TOP Leader. “We were disappointed that Chief McManus said their behavior was legal. He failed to acknowledge that Ometu should have never even been approached by his officers.”
Ometu was violently arrested after a woman called police to report that she had been assaulted. On a body cam video, she can be heard telling the officer who later stopped Ometu that the man who assaulted her was wearing a green shirt, Black and “kind of” had a beard. Ometu has a full, hard-to-miss beard.
“What Black people want is for officers to treat us as human beings worthy of dignity and respect,” said Kaite Pruett, a TOP Member. “The police in this video didn’t acknowledge Ometu’s right to not be harassed, to not be considered a suspect because of the color of his skin. From what we have seen in the videos, the officers involved in this case should be ashamed at the slopiness of their work.”
We applaud District Attorney Joe Gonzales for doing the right thing in dropping the charges. Police shouldn’t be able to harass people, escalate the situation, then make arrests because of how people react to their provocation. The reason and manner that police approach people should always be examined, and cases where the officers’ reasons for approaching a person don’t hold should be thrown out.
“No one should ever get arrested simply for resisting arrest,” said Michael Roberts, a TOP member. “If there are no other charges against a person, then why did police attempt to arrest them in the first place? Too many people are in jail because police target them, especially Black and Latino people, then find a way to arrest them, even when they have no legitimate reason to even talk to the person. If anything is learned from this case it should be that Black men have the right to exist without harassment from police just like white people do.”
Texas Organizing Project organizes Black and Latino communities in Dallas, Harris and Bexar counties with the goal of transforming Texas into a state where working people of color have the power and representation they deserve. For more information, visit organizetexas.org.
This press release was sent out September 2, 2020.