The San Antonio Police Department boasts some of the finest officers that any department could hope for. They work day in and day out to grind out the tough yards while building trust among the lawful citizens of our city. This post isn’t about them.
It’s about a growing group of officers that are abusing their power while getting off from those abuses with cursory penalties. It’s a growing trend that even the FBI has taken notice of. And the impunity needs to stop now because abuses can grow like a cancer and leave the hard-won loyalties and trust established by the trustworthy members of our police force in a shambles.
There is growing suspicion that the police union is leaning towards using it’s influence to protect these abusive police officers as well.
The most recent incident involves Officer Daniel Zimmerman, a seven year veteran who, earlier this year beat a DWI suspect repeatedly while trying to forcefully draw blood for a blood-alcohol test. The officer received a 30 day suspension which he covered with “accrued holiday time”. In other words, he skated. Interestingly, the DA didn’t file any charges against the suspect and, as of the time of the writing of this article, neither were charges filed against Zimmerman. That’s more than six months since the incident.
Then there is officer Matthew Belver who beat a suspect while in custody and then charged the suspect with aggravated assault against the officer. The suspect, Carlos Flores was dragged through a soap opera in the courts and the corrections system until the FBI began questioning him about what had happened. Seems that the FBI was conducting a federal investigation into allegations that Belver had beaten suspects before. After much wrangling, a writ of habeas corpus was filed and Flores was released. The officer received a 30 day suspension.
The San Antonio Police Department needs to get a hold on this and assure that the policeman’s union doesn’t use threats of tangling up the justice system to protect rogue police. Every day that this goes on, the majority of our police force, the honest, men and women in the trenches will grow more and more frustrated because the hard-won trust of the citizens they protect is being squandered and left in a shambles by the selfish, irresponsible nonsense of a few. This will get out of hand if city officials fail to take strong action.