VICTORIA, Texas (AP) — The lawyer for a now 78-year-old Texas man shot twice with a stun gun by a police officer during a traffic stop two years ago says an out-of-court settlement has been reached with the city of Victoria.
Pete Vasquez’s attorney, Rachel Vesser, told The Victoria Advocate that settling the case before a civil rights lawsuit was filed in court was the best option for her client because a federal law makes it more difficult to sue law enforcement officers.
She and the Vasquez family declined to detail terms of the settlement.
“You don’t see us wearing nice, big watches or going on trips,” said Albert Vasquez, whose father was involved in the December 11, 2014, altercation that was captured on police car video and attracted international attention. “The settlement, it was not about that. But that’s the only way you’re going to get justice.”
Former Victoria police officer Nathanial Robinson was fired less than a month after the incident.
Vasquez was pulled over for an expired vehicle inspection sticker, and the video showed Robinson grabbing Vasquez’s arm and pushing him onto the police cruiser. The footage didn’t show what happened between the two after falling on the ground. The officer’s attorney said Vasquez kicked the officer and his resistance prompted the stun gun response.
Victoria Police Chief J.J. Craig said Robinson violated policies that included conduct and the use of force. Craig personally apologized to Vasquez the day it happened.
“You don’t normally see that kind of accountability,” Messer said. “These are all things that the nation as a whole can learn from.”
A criminal investigation into the traffic stop was completed by the Texas Rangers, who turned their findings over to prosecutors. A grand jury subsequently refused to indict Robinson.
“I was a very happy man,” Vasquez told the newspaper in a story published Sunday. “I didn’t have no problems at all. Now, on account of this, I cannot focus the way I used to.”
Albert Vasquez believes his father suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, but said Pete Vasquez has declined to see a therapist.
Pete Vasquez cried as he recalled being unable to get off the ground and comply with the officer’s commands because the stun gun bursts had left him temporarily paralyzed.
“It still affects me once in a while,” Vasquez said tearfully. He said he remembered getting hit twice.
“I said, ‘Well, he used this thing on me already two times. The next thing he’s going to pull is a gun to shoot me,'” Vasquez said.
He said he was relieved when other officers showed up.
“The way I see it is they have to have a good reason to stop you, and I don’t give them a reason to,” Vasquez said.
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