A San Antonio officer has been fired for using racial slurs and other inappropriate language during an arrest last summer, all of which was captured on his body worn camera.
As reported San Antonio station KSAT, former officer Tim Garcia was booted off the force in January after body-camera footage captured him using the n-word multiple times during the arrest an African-American man at the River Center Mall on July 14, 2018.
The mall’s security guards called police on 24-year-old Dewaxne Robinson, who they’d claimed was acting “aggressive and confrontational” towards mall shoppers. Security also said Robinson was using “vulgar language” and “threatening patrons as they passed.”
KSAT obtained a copy of footage from Garcia’s body-worn camera, which painted a slightly different picture of the situation. Robinson was seated calmly outside a Macy’s department store, surrounded by mall security guards store when Garcia and his partner arrived at the scene. In the clip, Robinson tells the officers he felt he was being harassed by the security guards, who asked that he leave.
Robinson said he was on his way out but grew angry when the security guards continued following him and “would not leave him alone.” Garcia heard him out, but explained to Robinson that he had to leave if security had ordered him to, or else he could be arrested.
“My question to you is, ‘If they tell you to leave the mall, are you going to leave the mall?’” the officer says in the video. “If they tell you they do not want you here [and] you have to leave, then you have to leave. If you don’t leave, then you’re breaking the law, but you’re not breaking the law by being here. But if they tell you to leave and you don’t leave, then you’re breaking the law, and that’s when I get involved.”
Robinson denied doing anything wrong, but agreed to hand his ID over to police. He then proceeded to question the officers about why he could face a criminal trespass charge even though he was clearly cooperating.
In a police report written by Garcia, the officer said Robinson had “refused” to hand him his identification, and that officers then noticed the man “change posture and begin to take an aggressive stance.”
The body cam video showed Robinson calmly saying “No wait, hold up” when officers asked for his ID a second time, after which Garcia and his partner yanked the man’s hands behind his back and handcuffed him.
“All I did was ask a question,” Robinson says in the video after officers place him on the ground.
“Right, and we asked you for ID and you refused to give it to us,” Garcia responded.
The two continued to engage in an intense back-and-forth as Robinson complained about being arrested. Garcia shot back: “You know what’s bulls–t? The way you were raised is bulls–t.”
After Robinson complained about his arm being twisted in the handcuffs and referred to Garcia using a racial slur, the officer mocked him and said: “N—-? Do I look like your n—-? Say it right. Put an ‘r’ at the end. If you’re going to say it, don’t call me n—–. I ain’t your n—–,” according to the footage.
Their showdown didn’t stop there, however. When Robinson asked once again why he was being detained, Garcia snarkily replied, “For being a f—ked up n—–r.” He later told the man, “F–k you! Here, here, this is the police telling you, ‘F–k you.’ How do you like that?”
The nearly 25-minute video also shows the officer force Robinson to the ground and use his baton “as a pressure point” when the man became combative during a pat-down. According to KSAT, it was this use of force that led Robinson to file a report against Garcia one month after his arrest.
Upon reviewing the bodycam video, a sergeant wrote that Garcia’s inappropriate language was “unnecessary.” However, that same sergeant argued that Garcia didn’t use the n-word in “a racist matter,” but had only “repeated the word after Robinson said it out loud several times.”
Two lieutenants also reviewed the footage, and a letter of reprimand was determined to be an appropriate punishment for the officer at the time. When the matter was reviewed by a deputy chief, however, he did not agree with the other officers and argued that Garcia’s “f–k you” was unprofessional enough for the video to be forwarded to Internal Affairs for a formal investigation.
San Antonio police Chief William McManus agreed and later sided with the review board’s recommendation of indefinite suspension.
“Indefinitely suspending the officer was the only remedy to this particular situation,” McManus said. “That kind of behavior is not in accordance with our guiding principles. So the whole thing, from start to finish, right after start to finish, was just as wrong as wrong can be.”
When pressed by investigators about the incident, Garcia tried to defend his actions, saying: “I used similar language as a means of communicating my point. I repeated some of his language in order to speak a vernacular he would understand.”
“In retrospect, I was wrong and should have refrained from stooping to his level,” he added.
Watch more in the video below.