From sports to fraternities and not-so-secret societies hazing has been an unspoken rite of passage from the beginning to the next chapter of life. The practice has come under fire as more and more lives are forever changed by thrill junkies seeking to push the envelope of human exploitation. All this for the sake of brotherhood/sisterhood. As organizations openly denounce the act, it continues to persist albeit less visual. It’s a phase one grows out of at some point… especially as an officer of the law. That simply wasn’t the case however after a video surfaced of a handcuffed deputy on the ground being threatened by a 4-year-old girl armed with a Taser.
Shocking as the revelation may be, what is even more shocking is that the shackled and handcuffed deputy was being hazed by fellow deputies, one of whom was the girl’s father. The father of this 4-year-old knowingly allowed his daughter to participate in a hazing practice which could have went horribly wrong. The icing on the cake is the fact that the officers involved are from the worst group of cops in the country statistically, the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office.
According to Sheriff Javier Salazar, “several members of the Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) had a party where at least 6 deputies hazed a seventh deputy. County-issued handcuffs, shackles and a taser were allegedly used in the incident.” Six of the seven deputies are veterans. A 4-year-old child of one of the deputies was also involved. “Although all involved seemed to take the incident as a joke, their actions were not tolerated,” said Salazar.
“Clearly, the video is disturbing. Although, by some accounts, hazing has existed in the sheriff’s office for several decades. It will not be tolerated. Discipline handed out in this case was appropriately severe, and reflective of the commitment to continue managing a positive public image,” Salazar said.
The deputies involved were identified by a Bexar County Sheriff’s Office spokesman as: Ryan S. Ferrell, Devin D. Tutor, Michael Gomez, Joseph H. Martinez, Juan C. Macias, Joshua A. Montoya, and Alyssa A. Aranda.
Deputies Aranda and Gomez resigned soon after the video surfaced. Deputy Martinez is pending dismissal following an unrelated DWI case earlier this year. Deputies Ferrell and Macias received 30-day suspensions, while Deputy Montoya got a 15-day suspension. Tutor, the man on the ground remains with the sheriff’s office.
Gomez, along with another deputy, turned themselves in on charges stemming from an unrelated incident. Salazar said they allegedly beat an inmate and retaliated against their co-workers who reported them. Gomez resigned on March 30 of this year. The other deputy, Michael Hernandez, was placed on administrative leave at the time. Both were charged with official oppression in that incident.
All of the deputies involved in the hazing incident were charged with child endangerment, unlawful restraint, and hazing. The DA’s office declined to press charges citing insufficient evidence. The video clear as day of the incident was considered “insufficient evidence” to bring at the minimum hazing as charge against these deputies. The only one who should avoid charges being pressed is the shackled and handcuffed deputy who was nearly Tasered by a four-year-old.
This is your justice system at work.