HOUSTON — The METRO Police Department is in the hot seat after one of its officers was accused of beating a homeless man allegedly unprovoked while a second policeman watched.
What’s being described as a violent confrontation took place Wednesday morning at the Burnett Station platform where Darrell Giles, 31, was slumped over in a seat, police said. Investigators said officer J. Warren approached Giles and an confrontation ensued, during which the officer allegedly beat Giles with a baton.
Warren and a second officer identified as D. Reynoso, who investigators said was present at the time, are accused of using excessive force.
Officials said the Harris County District Attorney's Office has opened a criminal investigation, and METRO police are conducting an internal review.
METRO Police Chief Vera Bumpers apologized to the victim Friday afternoon during a news conference where she said the initial charges against Giles have been dropped. Bumpers also said Warren has been suspended without pay and Reynoso has been suspended with pay.
"We are not going to tolerate excessive force by our officers," Bumpers said.
Moments after the conference, Black Lives Matter activist were outside with one request: surveillance footage from the incident.
"The video is very important to the investigation, so we will not be releasing the video at this time," Bumpers said.
Members of Black Lives Matter Houston have demanded the video be released immediately.
"The citizens of Houston need to see what's going on," activist Ashton Woods declared. "This incident is actually indicative of how the city and the law enforcement agencies treat the homeless population of Houston."
"They're not able to sit on benches," local homeless advocate Shere Dore remarked. "They don't have the same freedoms as we do out here."
The activists said they want the Department of Justice to look into local law enforcement, instead of allowing the police to investigate themselves.
"Regardless of who's in the uniform, it's the person wearing the uniform who's committing the abuse," Woods said.
Black Lives Matter have given METRO an ultimatum that they must release the video before 2 p.m. Monday.