Relatives of a 19-year-old man accused of assaulting a Fort Worth officer and arrested Thursday say video proves it was the teen who was punched by the officer.
The teen’s older brothers, David and Henry Rangel, say they want the officer fired for police brutality and charged with assault.
“The video does not lie,” David Rangel said.
Sgt. Marc Povero, a police spokesman, said the involved officer — identified in a police report as J. Lawson — notified his supervisor that he had used force during the encounter and completed a required use-of-force report.
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Even before the video surfaced, Povero said, a routine investigation was started by the officer’s supervisor to determine if the use of force was justified.
The incident occurred about 6 p.m. at the Diamond Hill Recreational Center, 1701 N.E. 36th St.
The brothers say Paul “Ray” Aleman had been playing basketball at the center with friends when he was detained by the officer.
Though not present during their brother’s arrest, the Rangels say they have talked to people who were there. They allege the officer mistook their brother for someone he was looking for and detained the teen, despite Aleman repeatedly telling the officer that he was not the man police were seeking.
David Rangel said his brother was asking that the officer’s sergeant be called to the scene, and he believes “that’s why he started getting more physical.”
Povero said a police report indicates Lawson had been called by the recreational center’s director Wednesday on a report of people fighting and smoking marijuana on the north side of the center.
When Lawson arrived, the teens scattered.
“He does recognize some of the kids,” Povero said. “They were yelling at him, cussing at him, but they ran off.”
Povero said Lawson was called by the director again Thursday, saying the teens had returned.
Lawson arrived on the scene and recognized Aleman as one of those involved in the previous day’s encounter, Povero said.
He said the officer had been trying to detain the teen in the back of his patrol car so that the center’s director could issue Aleman a criminal trespass warning.
Video posted on YouTube
The cellphone video, posted on YouTube under the title “Fort Worth Police … Hitting teenager,” shows the teen questioning the officer “Who’s your witness” and the officer ordering Aleman to “sit down” in the patrol car.
When the teen does not immediately comply, the officer pushes him down into the seat.
“I said sit down and I mean it,’ ” the officer tells the teen, whose legs remain outside the car. “Get your legs up now or go to jail. Get em up! I’m not asking again.”
The officer then appears to physically push the teen fully into the car. A short time later, the officer’s thrusts his arm into the car toward the teen.
Witness can be heard immediately telling the officer, “Hey, you can’t hit him.”
“He hit me. He hit me in the face,” the officer responds to the witnesses before turning back to Aleman and saying, “You hit me in the face!”
Aleman can be heard on the video screaming, “I didn’t f------ touch you!”
“… I will have my Grandma hire me a f------ attorney for what the f--- you just did,” Aleman shouts. “I got that s--- on camera, n----!”
After more shouting by all parties, Aleman tells the officer that he knows who they are looking for but he’s not going to tell “after you just put your hands on me officer.”
“It’s you. I remember your face,” the officer tells Aleman, ordering the teen again to get his feet in the car.
The officer soon brings out his handcuffs, ordering Aleman to turn around, but the teen refuses and indicates he wants another officer handling the arrest.
“I don’t have no problem cooperating with any other officer but you …,” the teen tells him.
Both men photographed at scene
According to the police report, another officer was dispatched to assist Lawson at the scene.
The second officer, according to the report, spoke to Lawson and gathered information “to make an arrest for assault public servant.” He then transported Aleman to jail without further incident.
Lawson has been with the department more than 24 years.
Povero said photographs were taken of both Aleman and the Lawson at the scene.
He said the officer had a visible small abrasion above his right eye and reported feeling pain from his glasses being pushed into his eye socket.
Aleman had a small laceration to his right shin but no visible injury to his face, Povero said.
Provero said a criminal trespass warning was ultimately given to Aleman to prevent him from returning to the center and nearby city park.
Aleman remained in the Mansfield Jail on Friday with bail set at $7,500.
David Rangel said the officer had no “legitimate reason” to detain his brother, nor “punch” him in the face.
He called it ironic that the officer’s actions took place at a recreation center.
“That’s where kids go to have fun and to stay out of trouble,” he said.