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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dashcam video from a Dallas police cruiser clearly showed then DPD officer Rene Villanueva repeatedly punching a drunk driving suspect in November 2013.
Based on the video evidence and injures to the suspect’s face (as seen in the mugshot below), Villanueva was indicted for assault and official oppression and later fired.
More than a year after the incident, Villanueva appeared in court for a criminal trial. But it only lasted about 5 minutes.
Villanueva was found not guilty because the suspect who received those punches did not show up to testify in court. The suspect was in the country illegally, and has since been deported.
Although, the Dallas District Attorney’s Office wanted to dismiss the charges, Villanueva wanted a trial. The selected jury never saw the dashcam video or heard any testimony.
“We were confident a jury would’ve convicted this defendant,” said Prosecutor Russell Wilson. “But the law requires we have the victim to be present, and they weren’t there.”
The acquittal puts Villanueva on a faster track to possibly getting his job back as a Dallas Police Officer. That’s why the former officer wanted a trial instead of a dismissal of the charges.
“I’m still going to try to get my job back. I have a lot to give the community,” said Villanueva.
CBS 11 contacted DPD about the possibility of Villaneuva getting his job back. In a statement, the department said, “Under civil service rules, Mr. Villanueva has the right to appeal his discipline.”
(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)
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