A Texas deputy is on desk duty and finds himself the focus of an internal investigation after video showed him tackling and punching a 16-year-old Black teenager he accused of running from him.
A GoPro camera affixed to the back of Carlos’ four wheeler captured the confrontation, which unfolded March 26 outside a Shell gas station in northwest Harris County in the Houston area.
Carlos, a high school sophomore who’s been identified in news reports only by his first name, was the target of the deputy’s attack. He and two friends were riding their all-terrain vehicles, or ATVs, through their neighborhood.
They encountered Houston County Sheriff’s Deputy Bert Dillow when they stopped at the gas station to fuel up. Carlos and his friends quickly noticed the deputy and wondered aloud whether the officer would confront them as they sat outside.
The video showed Dillow walking out of the convenience store holding a cup. He approached the teen, who was sitting on his ATV at the gas pump.
“Remember me?” the deputy asked Carlos. “The one you’ve left off a couple times and run from.”
Dillow then told Carlos to give him his ID. When the teen handed over his license, Dillow inspected it for a few seconds. He then ordered Carlos to walk to him and turn around. The deputy put his cup down on the ATV and seemed to be reaching for his handcuffs. When Carlos got to the other side of the ATV, he took two sudden steps to back away from the officer, but Dillow reached out and grabbed the teen by the shirt.
“He just looked at my ID for like two seconds and said to put my hands behind my back,” Carlos explained, according to USA Today. “That’s when I panicked a little and pulled away from him and he grabbed me.”
Dillow became aggressive and began shouting profanity-laced threats at the teen.
“Don’t run from me, boy. I will beat your ass right here,” the deputy yelled in Carlos’ face. “Turn around and put your hands behind your back before I beat the s–t out of you. Don’t be f–king stupid”
Carlos did put his hands behind his back, but he moved and they became unclasped as the officer reached for his arm.
“What did I tell you?” Dillow reacted. The deputy then punched Carlos in the side of the head and the two of them toppled.
Carlos rolled around on the ground and Dillow pounced on top of him. The deputy punched him two more times as he wrestled with the high schooler on the pavement. He ordered Carlos to roll over and put his hands behind his back.
“And all I was going to do is talk to you,” Dillow said as he sat on top of the teen and placed him in handcuffs.
After the ordeal, Carlos told ABC13 he was taken to an unknown facility where he was fingerprinted and released to his parents. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office said the teen was charged with evading arrest.
The agency has not released the deputy’s name, but ABC identified him as Dillow.
Sheriff Ed Gonzalez announced in a March 31 tweet that Dillow was placed on administrative duty amid the internal probe, saying the officer used “physical force and unprofessional language.”
ATVs are not road-legal vehicles in Harris County. Carlos said he knows that and admitted he may have fled from deputies before on his four-wheeler. But he said he’s never been in trouble before and did not think he could get arrested for gassing up his ATV.
“I just don’t think I should be treated in that manner for riding on the street,” the teen told ABC. “A lot of 16-year-olds got ATVs. … [Tthey] want to have fun with their friends.”
According to the ABC13, Dillow was involved in the controversial death of Luis Torres, who died in police custody in January 2002. Dillow was a Baytown police officer at the time.
Torres’ family members called paramedics to treat the man for a medical emergency he was having. But EMS called the police because Torres was uncooperative. Dillow and two other officers tracked the man down and had a violent encounter with him. Dashcam video showed the officers punch Torres several times and one of them placed a knee on his neck at one point.
“It is remarkably [similar] to the George Floyd case,” Michael Solar, the attorney who represented Torres’ family at the time, told the TV station.
Torres died of asphyxiation. His death was ruled a homicide, but a grand jury decided not to indict the officers. Torres’ family reached a settlement with the police department and Dillow remained an officer there for another 10 years. He joined the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in 2018.
The Sheriff’s Office did not immediately send a copy of last month’s incident report to Atlanta Black Star. A department spokesman on Wednesday said agency officials likely would not release the report while the internal investigation is underway.